Basic Building Blocks

In this episode of Mock Trial Flight School, Brian Bellamy discusses the fundamental building blocks for cross-examination of witnesses in a trial or mock trial setting. The discussion covers three critical aspects of a competent witness cross: organization, persuasion, and style.

1. How to organize the cross-examination persuasively and logically

  • arrange around the big points supporting the case theory
  • gain admissions of key facts
  • avoid repeating direct examination

2. How to make the cross-examination more persuasive

  • limit to points that support your case theory and theme
  • limit to questions you know the answer to and avoid fishing
  • plan fishing questions carefully so that jury will not notice
  • use leading questions only
  • don’t ask for opinions or conclusions
  • ask for one fact at a time
  • avoid trivial matters
  • use simple language
  • ask short questions
  • build in bits
  • torture key points
  • use headlines
  • be brief and concise

3. How to have an exciting and dynamic style

  • as an attorney on the cross, you are the STAR – don’t give the witness center stage
  • maintain eye contact with the decision-maker(s)
  • use a dynamic voice and tone appropriate for the facts
  • use beneficial gestures
  • avoid reading questions, work from an outline – or, preferably, prepare so well that you don’t use any notes – especially in a mock trial
  • don’t be cross (i.e., mean), remember honey attracts more bees.