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Prem's general hints on XX

  1. Avoid strengthening your opponent's case by eliciting answers that were omitted in examination in chief, or which could not be asked in examination in chief.
  2. When a reluctant witness is drawn as near to the point as there is any hope of his being drawn or driven, it is always dangerous to attempt to urge him further.
  3. If a witness has a strong bias, you must lead him on until his bias becomes manifest and overpowering.
  4. A strong interest weakens the side on which it lies; it will be proper to elicit this at the earliest opportunity and shown early in cross examination.
  5. Never ask a question the answer to which may be adverse to your client.
  6. If you want to get an answer to a particular question do not put it directly. The probability is that the witness will know your difficulty, and avoid giving you exactly what you wish, and unless you circumvent him he will evade your question.
  7. Avoid putting a question which may make an opening for a flood of questions for your opponent.
  8. Do not cross-examine for explanations, unless the explanation is necessary for your case. See Harris Hints on Advocacy.
  9. Do not put the same question upon some important piece of evidence to every witness. If you have got the first contradicted by the second, let the matter rest; the next witness may make a guess, and corroborate the first, which will materially weaken the effect of the contradiction. By judiciously pursuing the line you may get all the witnesses to contradict one another. See Wellman's Art of Cross Examination.
  10. Whenever you have once fairly caught a witness, do not sacrifice the advantage by exhibiting him too ostentatiously. You need not give him a second run for the purpose of going over the same ground again. See Wellman's Art of Cross Examination.
  11. Manner plays a great part in advocacy. A question in one tone will induce an answer while in another it will not. An emphasis on a particular word may produce a totally different version from that which would cause if laid upon another. (See Harris Hints on Advocacy).
  12. What is called a serious cross-examination when applied to a truthful witness, only makes the truth stand out more clearly, and unless counsel is able to arrive, in his own mind, at a satisfactory opinion, it is far better to ask· nothing than to flounder on with the chance of getting out something by a crowd of questions." See Life of Sergeant Ballantine p. 126.
  13. "If a witness intends to commit perjury, it is rarely useful to press him upon the salient points of the case, with which he probably has made himself thoroughly acquainted, but to seek for circumstances for which he would not be likely to prepare himself." See Life of Sergeant Ballantine, p. 126.


"In concluding the remarks on cross-examination, the rarest, the most useful and the most difficult to be acquired of the accomplishments of the advocate, we would again urge upon your attention, the importance of calm discretion. In addressing a jury you may sometimes talk without having anything to say, and no harm will come of it. But in cross-examination every question that does not advance your cause injures it. If you have not a definite object to attain, dismiss the witness without a word. There are no harmless questions here; the most apparently unimportant may bring destruction or victory. If the summit of the orator's art has been rightly defined to consist in knowing when to sit down, that of an advocate may be described as knowing when to keep his seat. Very little experience in our Courts will teach you this lesson, for every day will show to your observant eye instances of self-destruction brought about by imprudent cross-exan1inntion. Fear not ·that your discrete reserve may be mistaken for carelessness or want of self-reliance. The true motive will soon be seen and approved. Your critics are lawyers, who know well the value of discretion in an advocate, and how indiscretion in cross-examination cannot be compensated by any amount of ability in other duties. Lawyers are sure to discover the prudence that governs your tongue. Even if the wisdom of your abstinence be not apparent at the moment, it will be recognized in the result. Your fame may be of slower growth that of the talker but it will be larger and more enduring. See Cox s Advocate.

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