The 10 commandments of cross-examination

The 10 Commandments of Cross-Examination

A trial lawyer’s tool box

The fine art of cross-examination is a skill that every single, solitary, trial lawyer must possess to be successful.  But, where does a lawyer begin to learn this critical skill?

Irving Younger, Esquire

Irving Younger is a lawyer’s lawyer.

“Younger authored a column on improving legal writing. He was also an avid legal historian, and his articles and lectures on the trial of alleged perjurer Alger Hiss, the story behind the case of Erie Railroad v. Tompkins, and the obscenity prosecution of James Joyce‘s book Ulysses are still read.” Wikipedia

One of his wonderful contributions to the foundation of legal learning is his 10 Commandments of Cross-examination. They are:

  1. Be brief.
  2. Short questions, plain words.
  3. Always ask leading questions.
  4. Don’t ask a question to which you do not know the answer.
  5. Listen to the witness’ answers.
  6. Don’t quarrel with the witness.
  7. Don’t allow the witness to repeat his direct testimony.
  8. Don’t permit the witness to explain his answers.
  9. Don’t ask the “one question too many.”
  10. Save the ultimate point of your cross for summation.

Here is an excellent, expansion on these 10 commandments by  Timothy A. Pratt.

What can a witness do to defend himself against cross-examination?

This is a hilarious court room scene from “My Blue Heaven.” Did the defense trial lawyer lose control of his witness? How does our erstwhile witness handle himself?

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About Lawrence "Larry" Berezin

I retired from the private practice of law after a 35-year legal career and fight parking tickets for people like you and me. I love sharing valuable information, tips and tricks to help drivers beat NYC parking tickets.

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