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Cross Examination

Definition - What does Cross Examination mean?

Cross examination is the process in a civil or criminal trial which allows the opposing party the opportunity to question a witness who has previously testified under direct examination. The goal of cross examining the witness is to discredit their previous testimony, reduce their credibility, or build doubt in the court's mind about their previous testimony.

What happens during cross examination?

During cross examination the lawyer may ask the witness to repeat their deposition testimony and concede to the accuracy of certain parts of their testimony (such as medical records). The lawyer may also ask questions to suggest the witness may be biased (i.e. they are an adjuster of the insurance company).

Questions should expose the weakness of the opponent's case, including inconsistencies in their testimony and the accuracy of certain events, errors, and omissions. Cross examination should also illuminate facts to support the client's version of the events.
Lawyers and cross examination

A good personal injury lawyer should have a thorough knowledge of the case, including the facts, rules and a strategy to win the case. They should prepare direct questions ahead of time with the sole purpose of discrediting the witness, including specific pieces of evidence and points they want the witness to concede. Questions should be prepared, short and relevant.

They should not attack the credibility of the witness, annoy the witness, or vilify them. They should always be polite and respectful. A good lawyer will also know when to stop questioning and move on to the next issue, which will keep the court from getting too bored.

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