Leonard Bucklin

"Every trial lawyer needs some stock cross examination questions to pull out of the bag. Try these."

"Here is a standard set of questions I've used in doing cross-examinations in trials and depositions. Study them, and be ready to use them when an adverse witness is in the witness chair. I put them in my trial notebook and read them over before each trial."


Standard Questions to Use Against Adverse Witness

© Leonard Bucklin

Following are the first three series of these standard series of questions. You can view or download the complete set of eight series of questions here.

# 1. When the Adverse Witness is Slow in Answering

[You want to rattle the witness into answering faster, and also tell the jury to suspect the witness because he is taking too long in answering to really be telling the truth. Ask in quick succession.]

  • Are you thinking of the answer to give?
  • Did you hear the question?
  • Did you understand the question?
  • Are you trying to think of the best answer to give?
  • Don't you want to answer the question?

# 2. Cross Examination on Discrepancy from Deposition

[You want to rattle the witness into answering faster, and also tell the jury to suspect the witness because he is taking too long in answering to really be telling the truth. Ask in quick succession.]

  • Were you examined under oath on (date) at (place)?
  • Your attorney was present? Court reporter?
  • Sworn to tell the truth? Your attorney had prepared you for the depositions?
  • I'm showing you a copy of your testimony, and I'm going to read a question from your deposition and the answer.

[You then read aloud to the jury and to the witness the question and answer.]

Contrary to the thinking of many attorneys and judges, you do not have to have court first admit the deposition Q&A into evidence, and certainly any thinking adversary attorney will not want to object and make a "big deal" out of the Q&A when it is received into evidence. However, should the court insist upon it, you can first offer the question and answer into evidence as an "admission" under the evidence rule regarding exceptions to the hearsay rule. Then after the Q&A is admitted into evidence, return to reading aloud to the jury and to the witness the question and answer.]

[Then, do NOT ask yet whether the answer was true, instead ask the following.]

  • Did I read that correctly?

[Optionally, at this point you can turn to the judge and offer the question and answer into evidence as an admission under the evidence rule regarding exceptions to the hearsay rule.]

[Continue by asking the following questions. Insist on "yes" or "no" answers.]

  • I'm showing you the signature page. Is that your signature, saying the deposition was true?
  • Is your memory of the accident better today than it was on [date of deposition]?
  • Let me read that question and answer back to you. Listen to it carefully, and then I will ask you a question about your answer [read question and answer]
  • Was that answer true when you gave it?

# 3. Anytime You Want to Emphasize Written Material

  • [Read the written material aloud to the witness, carefully, slowly, so all the jurors hear it. Then ask the witness the following.]
  • Did I read that correctly?

View the complete set of eight series of questions, or download these standard cross-examination questions, into your computer in PDF format, for you to edit and print out from your own computer


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