When I was a young JAG lawyer, the Army insisted on my use of this goofy phrase as I would call a fact or circumstance to the attention of a witness: "directing your attention to exhibit A, can you identify the item for the court." It had a nice "legal" sound to it and it was easy to remember. Candidly, it was somewhat better than saying, "hey – what is ‘A?’" I actually heard that question asked recently in trial. I’ll tell you what "A" is counsel!
We also learned the rules that we were never to break – as it relates to cross-examination the critical rule was simply this: never ask a question for which you do not know the answer.
Of course anyone who tries case does just that. Sometimes we get stung and sometimes we get lucky. The key to which happens is likely our ability to respond, not run.
This morning I was reading Paul Luvera’s blog for trial lawyers and he has a great post about Irving Younger and the "rules of cross-examination." If you are a great trial lawyer or (like me) aspire to "goodness" you should read Luvera’s post. Go there now and do it. Your life will be better.
If you are reading this and your are not a trial lawyer – go do it anyway. Your life will also be better. Lavera is one of the great ones – I count myself lucky to have learned from him at the Trial Lawyers College. He and Gerry are great friends and it is easy to see why. They both get it – they understand that the real people we represent and the real people on our juries expect authenticity and they want the truth. Running away from tough questions never wins cases.
Some day soon we will revisit criminal law. I promise. But for now it is off to work out. IMAZ looms ahead! What’s ten months between friends!