As I mentioned in the last blog post (the most important cross examination question), the purpose of cross examination is to nuke the other side's witness while telling your client's story.
To accomplish this, you need to be asking two types of cross examination questions -- positive and negative questions.
Watch the above video for cross examination examples!
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Positive Cross-Examination Questions
These kinds of questions are what you're used to asking and what the jury is used to hearing.
With positive cross-examination questions, you are confirming facts and actions that occurred.
For example, you can confirm the following:
- The Defendant was driving behind the Plaintiff
- The Defendant saw the Plaintiff come to a quick stop
- The Defendant ran into the back of Plaintiff's vehicle
Facts like these prove what all happened the day of the wreck.
But, that's only a piece of the story.
And if you stop your line of questioning here, then you're leaving a lot of meat on the bone and taking a major risk.
What happens if the Defendant says that he/she did not expect a collision to occur?
Does the Defendant escape liability?
Of course not! Keep reading...
Negative Cross-Examination Questions
Now for my favorite types of cross-examination questions! (I swear I'm not a negative person though...)
With negative cross-examination questions, you are showing the jury what the witness should have done, but the witness failed to do so.
Negative questions can be extremely powerful because they show that witness had the opportunity to make the right decision, however, the witness chose not to do so.
Keeping with the prior example, you can show the following:
- The Defendant failed to drive behind the Plaintiff at a distance that would have prevented the collision
- The Defendant failed to consider that the Plaintiff may end up coming to a quick stop
- The Defendant failed to swerve around the Plaintiff to avoid the collision.
And if the Defendant tries to claim that he/she could never have expected or anticipated the collision, then you can follow up with questions that confirm that the defendant's conscious decision to not do the above things increased the risk of the collision.
Pretty cool, right?
As you can see, focusing your cross-examination questions solely on what the witness/Defendant did can end up costing you. If you only focus on the "positive" actions, then the witness/defendant can potentially escape blame by saying they didn't know better.
That's when you switch things up and hit them with cross examination questions about what the witness did not do. With these questions, you can show that the witness chose to increase the likelihood of error.
And that's how you can nuke the other side's story!
If you found this to be helpful, then be sure to check out Trial Ad Academy (see below), which is an online course of mine that goes through all of the stages of trial (including cross examination) in much greater detail.
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