An overview of Prem's subsidiary rules of cross-examination
Prem's book on Cross Examination provides detailed subsidiary rules of cross-examination. The detail of those rules, including the illustrations from cases regarding the different points is provided in subsequent pages but here is an overview of Prem's subsidiary rules on cross examination, which are designed to help counsel in the difficult task of cross-examination.
Rule 1 Never commence cross-examination of a witness without the best preparation and without acquainting yourself with all the necessary details concerning the witness and the point on which he would be called upon to depose.
Rule 2 Always attack the witness whom you are cross-examining in the weakest point at the opening, unless it is some complicated matter involving long accounts or something of that kind.
Rule 3 Do not begin with your bad witnesses. Begin with your best.
Rule 4 Do not cross-examine a witness merely as to character severely. Never attack a person's character unless you have a record of it.
Rule 5 Do not make too much of immaterial discrepancies. The cross-examination for immaterial discrepancy in conversation is generally useless.
Rule 6 Do not examine a witness in a language which is much above the level of the witness. A counsel should always keep to the level of his witness.
Rule 7 When the offence is only technical, do not cross-examine much. Want of cross- examination may be made up by argument.
Rule 8 Try to reduce the gravity of the offence, when it is proved to the hilt.
Rule 9 lf the witness is enthusiastic or exaggerating, allow him to exaggerate the matter until the exaggeration becomes apparently absurd.
Rule 10 Do not cross-examine a moderate witness severely.
Rule 11 Do not press an unwilling or reluctant witness too much.
Rule 12 Do not fish out unnecessary information in cross-examination. Never ask for mere information from a witness under cross-examination, because, if you do, you are sure to get it to your cost.
Rule 13 Never begin to cross-examine a witness without purpose. Never put a question in cross-examination without being able to give a reason for it.
Rule 14 No question should be asked without an object.
Rule 15 Stop cross-examination when you have got your point.
Rule 16 Never put unnecessarily vexatious questions in order to please your client.
Rule 17 Do not cross-examine in such a manner as to give room to an effective and damaging re-examination. Sometimes through small openings in cross- examination a large and effective re-examination may gain admittance.
Rule 18 Do not expect too much from your adversary's witness.
Rule 19 Never create impression in the mind of a witness that you are his enemy or that you distrust him, even if you have to elicit something unpleasant from him.
Rule 20 Bring out past history or some unfortunate incident in the witnesses life by some suitable apology or in a pleasant manner.
Rule 21 Do not rush through your cross-examination.
Rule 22 lf you get a favourable answer, do not ask for the answer to be repeated.
Rule 23 Never cross-examine your own witness.
Rule 24 Do not ask a question too broadly.
Rule 25 When a witness has given some evidence in your favour you should not discredit him by showing him unworthy of belief.
Rule 26 Do not ask questions in cross-examination at random without an objective point.
Rule 27 Do not press a witness who refuses to answer a material question. A refusal to answer or an evasion of your question, will frequently be more serviceable to you than words.
Rule 28 Do not put material questions straight away. Always begin with immaterial questions.
Rule 29 When you secure some points in cross-examination leave it and divert the mind of the witness by some other questions of no relevancy at all.
Rule 30 Do not argue with the witness.
Rule 31 Do not go over in cross-examination the same ground as that covered in examination-in-chief.
Rule 32 Never ask a question the answer to which may be adverse to your case.
Rule 33 Do not cross-examine unnecessarily to obtain an explanation. Do not cross- examine for explanation unless the explanation is necessary for your case.
Rule 34 Do not tell a witness again and again that he is on oath.
Rule 35 Do not repeat questions in cross-examination. But sometimes by sheer repetition you unnerve a witness and get the truth out from him.
Rule 36 If you can safely admit a fact do not put the other party to proof which the other party can easily prove.
Rule 37 Do not cross-examine a witness on unimportant details.
Rule 38 Do not lose your temper and never make an exhibition of ill-feeling.
Rule 39 Never attempt to distort facts in cross-examination.
Rule 40 Never abuse your privilege as counsel
Rule 41 Do not appeal to the sympathy of the Judge or Jury too often.
Rule 42 Be always ready with law and evidence.
Rule 43 Never interfere with the judge if he begins to cross examine.
Rule 44 Do not attempt to effect the impossible in cross examination.
Rule 45 Do not lead the witness to absurd results.
Rule 46 Do not make observations on the testimony while the witness is under examination.