Even in the most intricate cases, the vast majority of witnesses can be cross-examined in 30 minutes or less. Effective cross-examination gets to the point fast and keeps the jury interested from the minute the first question is asked until the witness is passed for re-direct. It's difficult to say how long cross-examination will take, but one thing is certain: it won't take all day.
The length of time required for effective cross-examination depends on many factors, such as the number of questions asked, the importance of the facts elicited, and the scope of the examination. Cross-examination is an art as well as a science, so don't be surprised if it takes more time than you expect. The important thing is that you keep the jury focused on the issues at hand rather than getting lost in sidebars about unrelated matters.
Generally speaking, cross-examination that focuses on only a few topics and asks a lot of questions per topic will give the jury a good picture of the witness's credibility. If you go into great detail about every subject that is brought up during cross-examination, then you are just wasting time. Of course, there are always exceptions; for example, if a witness shows a pattern of inconsistent statements, then extensive questioning is necessary to uncover all of these inconsistencies.
Cross-Examination When a witness has been questioned by the counsel for the plaintiff or the government, the lawyer for the defendant may cross-examine the witness. Cross-examination is mainly confined to questions on issues made during direct examination. It can also include questions about prior convictions, allegations that the testimony is given under pressure from the government, and other matters that might affect the credibility of the witness.
The purpose of cross-examination is to elicit facts which will discredit the witness's testimony, weaken his position, or exhibit some other aspect of his character which will assist in determining how much weight should be given to his testimony.
During cross-examination, the opposing counsel seeks to undermine the witness's credibility through aggressive questioning. The cross-examiner attempts to expose flaws in the witness's memory, perception, motive, or reason for testifying one way or another. The cross-examiner may also attempt to draw out inconsistencies between the witness's testimony and that given by him upon direct examination.
It is not unusual for witnesses to change their stories during cross-examination. If a witness admits to having lied upon direct examination, he or she can be expected to lie again during cross-examination. The cross-examiner must be careful not to get the witness into any more lies, but if this can't be avoided, it is worth it for the benefit of the jury.
When a witness has been questioned by the counsel for the plaintiff or the government, the lawyer for the defendant may cross-examine the witness. It is used to test the credibility of witnesses and to elicit facts not apparent from the original testimony.
The term "cross-examination" comes from Latin crux, "a cross," and examinare, "to examine carefully," or "to ask about." Thus, cross-examination involves asking about and challenging the reliability of evidence that is important to the case.
Counsel for the defense should be aware of any possible grounds for objection during the plaintiff's case in chief. For example, if a plaintiff alleges that a defendant is liable because it failed to warn consumers about the hazards of its product, then the defendant should be allowed to introduce evidence showing that the product was safe when it left the manufacturer's hands. Again, if a plaintiff claims that a defendant is liable because it designed an unsafe product, then the defendant should be permitted to show that it built its products according to industry standards.
During cross-examination, defendants seek to undermine the credibility of plaintiffs' witnesses by revealing inconsistencies between their testimonies and other facts of record.
Because this is not a jury trial, it should take no more than three hours, unless you and/or the prosecutor have multiple witnesses to call. The judge may want to schedule this case for after your current trial has concluded if he or she feels that another trial will be difficult for you to get ready for.
The average length of time for a bench trial is about 3 hours. This time includes questioning of both you and the other party regarding their claims and defenses. The judge may ask to see evidence not in the record at this time. This is called taking testimony by wayiing cross-examination.
If the judge finds for the plaintiff, he or she will issue a judgment against you. If the judge finds for you, he or she will issue a written opinion explaining his or her decision. Either way, you will be able to appeal the decision once it is final.
It is important to remember that you are facing possible imprisonment if you do not agree with the court's decision. It is also important to note that there is no jury verdict form in civil cases. The only option is yes or no for finding either you or the other party liable.
Following cross-examination, the plaintiff's counsel may ask the witness again (this is known as REDIRECT), which may be followed by recross examination. This process of questioning and cross-examining witnesses, as well as receiving exhibits, will continue until the plaintiff's evidence is presented to the jury. At this point, the defendant may present its evidence, after which the parties will close their arguments to the jury.
The purpose of presenting evidence after cross-examination is twofold: first, to clarify issues raised by the cross-examination; second, to introduce new evidence or rebut evidence introduced by the opponent. For example, if during cross-examination it is discovered that the witness has a prior criminal record, then the plaintiff would have the opportunity to call additional witnesses or submit other evidence showing that the witness is not credible.
After hearing all the evidence, the jury will retire to consider its verdict. During this time, the judge will give instructions on the law relating to the case. The jury may also receive additional instructions from the judge if necessary. After deliberating, the jury will return to the courtroom where the foreperson will announce its verdict. If the jury finds for the plaintiff, it will award damages. If it finds for the defendant, it will award no damages.
A judgment will be entered against the plaintiff at the end of the trial.
The goal of cross-examination is to cast doubt on the veracity of the witness' evidence, particularly as it relates to the occurrences at issue in the case. Cross-examination questions are often the inverse of direct examination questions. For example, if a witness has testified during direct examination that he did not see who shot him, then on cross-examination the lawyer for the party who was shot would ask the witness if he could identify his shooter.
Cross-examination is also important for establishing facts about which there is no other evidence. For example, if a witness claims not to remember something that happened recently, then this can be proven or disproven through cross-examination. It is also useful for exploring inconsistencies within the testimony of one witness or between different witnesses.
Last but not least, cross-examination can reveal bias or prejudice on the part of a witness which may be used to impeach his or her credibility.
Bias is a quality or inclination toward one side or the other resulting from an opinion formed by the witness or from a physical fact affecting the witness' ability to observe or recount events accurately. Bias can be shown through prior statements made by the witness or through other evidence such as a past criminal record. Prejudice is a prejudgment formed by the witness or based on information received by the witness either first-hand or through others.