Legal Resources on How to Succeed in Cross Examination

Cross Examination is often considered the most exciting and intense part of a trial.  Whether you practice in the area of personal injury, business litigation, domestic relations, toxic torts, intellectual property litigation, criminal law, or another area of law, knowing how to do a great cross examination is very important. There are many theories on how to best perform a cross examination, and many books have been written on the topic. Methods used in one area of law (in criminal defense for example) may not work well at all in another (such as plaintiff personal injury cases.)  In order to master cross examination, you should know each approach and apply the best one depending upon the type of case, the witness, and the content of the witnesses’ testimony on direct.

Here are the Top 10 products for lawyers we suggest if you want to conduct case winning cross examinations.

Top 10 Cross Examination Resources for Lawyers

The list below focuses on specific skills, knowledge and methods that will help you succeed in cross examination. To see all products sold by Trial Guides that relate to cross examination, please click the button at the bottom of the page.

Recommended Resources

The Elements of Trial

The Elements of Trial

If you haven’t done many cross examinations before, we highly recommend that you start your exploration of litigation with Trial Guides’ most basic litigation book, The Elements of Trial. In addition to other sections taking you from client intake and investigation through every part of trial, author Rick Friedman provides an extensive chapter on cross examination. There are sections on the goals, applicable law, evidentiary issues, and basic methods of cross examination. There is also a section on writing your cross examinations in advance of trial for your first few trials with sample questions.

Also available as an audio book.

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The Fearless Cross-Examiner

The Fearless Cross-Examiner

Win the Witness, Win the Case

Leading trial lawyer, Patrick Malone, provides important new insights on cross examination, primarily aimed at personal injury cases including medical malpractice, products liability, wrongful death, motor vehicle crashes, and more. Included in this book is a discussion about why Irving Younger’s “10 Commandments of Cross Examination” are outdated, and how you should reconsider how to do cross examination in trial with today’s jurors. Malone also discusses how to use the Rules of the Road™ method in cross examination. This book contains contributions and cross examination transcript excerpts from several lawyers in the Inner Circle of Advocates, demonstrating successful ways to cross both experts and lay witnesses.

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Dynamic Cross-Examination

Dynamic Cross-Examination

A Whole New Way to Create Opportunities to Win

This book was brought to us by trial great Rick Friedman, who let us know this was the method of cross examination he’s been using for over twenty years to achieve some of the largest verdicts in America. Written by Jim McComas, one of the best criminal defense lawyers in the United States with a reputation for winning nearly impossible death penalty cases, this book takes a very different approach to cross examination. Imagine a cross-examination technique that can consistently destroy a witness's credibility, elicit surprising answers, and create the powerful moments that win hard cases. McComas casts aside the old notions of not asking questions that you don’t know the answer to, and not taking on the expert on their own turf. Instead, McComas teaches you how diligent preparation prepares you to get exceptional outcomes in your case. This book is aimed at addressing both criminal law and civil law cases.

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Cross Examination

Science and Techniques, 3rd Ed.

Cross Examination: Science and Techniques by Pozner & Dodd has long been the leading text on cross examination in the legal profession. Exhaustive in its coverage at 744 pages, it addresses every area and nuance of cross examination.  This book is applicable to lawyers in the fields of business litigation, intellectual property litigation, family law, personal injury, criminal law, and other areas of law.

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Exposing Deceptive Defense Doctors

Often the most challenging cross examinations in a personal injury case, are those of the defense doctors. Author Dorothy Clay Sims is known amongst the national plaintiff bar as the go-to lawyer for dismantling defense doctors’ unsubstantiated opinions. Her book deals with ways to research the adverse witness, prepare for their deposition and then how to dismantle their testimony. The book will enable you to reveal dishonesty, bias, over-reaching, and incompetence by defense doctors in multiple specialties.

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Trial Tactics

Trial Tactics

This video set features Rick Friedman and Roger Dodd discussing every part of a trial from beginning to end. In terms of building your cross examination skills, you get a discussion between Roger Dodd (author of Cross Examination: Science and Techniques) and Rick Friedman (co-author of Rules of the Road) discussing things ranging from whether you should favor constructive cross or destructive cross, and how Friedman’s use of the Dynamic Cross method contrasts with Pozner & Dodd’s methods of cross. In addition, Friedman and Dodd discuss using Rules of the Road in advance of trial creating these “rules” from a variety of industry sources or company manuals which the defendant and defense experts cannot credibly disagree should have been followed. Using Rules of the Road as the basis of your cross examination helps demonstrate to the jury that the defendant chose to violate known and accepted rules in your case.

There is a wealth of practical information available on this video set that can be used in personal injury cases, entertainment law, commercial litigation, employment law and intellectual properly litigation.

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Polarizing the Case

Polarizing the Case

Exposing & Defeating the Malingering Myth

In personal injury cases, when the defense gets desperate to avoid liability they will go to a common yet potentially deadly defense; that your client is malingering or has a personality disorder called Somatoform Disorder that results in them unconsciously faking or exaggerating symptoms. Some insurance doctors will even rely upon the “Fake Bad Scale” a junk science psychological test score that claims to be able to detect malingering. Rick Friedman teaches you how to address these frivolous defenses in cross examination with medical witnesses. The first part of the book teaches you how to get defense experts to take a black or white position – is the client faking or do they have a real injury? The second part of Polarizing the Case is an excerpt from one of Rick’s trials where he uses the method, along with running commentary by Rick about why he did what he did in the trial. Polarizing the Case is one of Trial Guides’ best-selling products of all time because the malingering defense is so common, and this book helps you dismantle it in front of the jury - often with explosive results.

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Mastering Motor Vehicle Cases

Mastering Motor Vehicle Cases

This product is primarily for plaintiff lawyers handling motor vehicle injury claims, truck crash cases, premises liability and some associated areas of personal injury claims. This product isn’t about the technique of cross examination. It is about preparing you with important insights about why the defense expert testimony is wrong or misleading, and the research that disproves their testimony. Dr. Arthur Croft, author of the first text on whiplash injuries and over 300 associated journal articles, teaches you about many of the leading defense myths associated with personal injury cases. He takes on defense myths such as everyone healing from spinal trauma within 4-12 weeks, “minor impact” defense contentions, and how defense biomechanists and crash reconstruction experts use average velocity of the vehicle rather than peak velocity of the area of the body injured to mislead the jury. He also includes tips on cross examining a crash reconstructionist, a biomechanist or defense medical examiner. If you handle auto injury cases, this is a must have product.

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Reptile The Keenan Law Firm's Method to Witness Preparation

Deposition and cross examination preparation isn’t just about your preparation for cross of the opposing witnesses. You need to concentrate on your client and witness preparation as well. In this video, Don Keenan and David Ball show a series of witness preparation sessions, and discuss the issues you need to watch out for that can sabotage client testimony. Unlike the Preparing for Deposition DVD below, this product isn’t for the client to watch. It is for the lawyer who is learning about how to prepare witnesses property before they testify.

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Trying Cases to Win

In the mid-1990s when few practical skill advocacy texts existed, Judge Herbert Stern released a set of five volumes on trial skills. One of the books was entirely focused on cross examination. Trying Cases to Win: Cross Examination(Vol. 3) is long out of print, but is still available on the used market.  Stern has a storied career, participating in the investigation of the assassination of Malcolm X, prosecuting corruption and organized crime as U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, and much more. His career has been the subject of several books and movies.


 


For a more condensed version of Stern’s trial advocacy methods, see Trying Cases to Win: in One Volume.

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The Art of Cross-Examination

The Art of Cross-Examination

With the Cross-Examinations of Important Witnesses in Some Celebrated Cases

*Honorable Mention*

One could argue that no list of top cross examination books would be complete without mentioning The Art of Cross Examination by Francis Wellman. Many lawyers would put this book at #1 on the list, (which may be a commentary on the stunning lack of updated litigation skills in the legal profession presently.) There is no question it is an often cited text on the topic. Originally published in 1903, and carrying examples of cross examinations from cases of public interest during the time, the book provided both lawyers and the public an intriguing peak into legal cases (at a time when there was no lawyer advertising, internet or Fox News). As a result, The Art of Cross Examination sold in great numbers not just to lawyers, but also to the general public.

Despite being very outdated (and even offensive) in terms of some of its language and methods, law schools continue to assign The Art of Cross Examination to law students instead of one of the better resources above. A new version of The Art of Cross Examination, released by Trial Guides for the academic market, contains a new forward and running commentary by Roger Dodd (co-author of Cross Examination: Science and Techniques) who discusses the valuable lessons on cross examination in the book, but also warns about the pitfalls of continuing to use ideas from 1903 in a trial today. The Trial Guides’ edition of Wellman’s great work seamlessly blends timeless advice with contemporary insight from one of America’s leading experts on the practice of cross-examination.

Other great books referencing cross examination methods from earlier periods include books on Rufus Choate, Lloyd Paul Stryker (The Art of Advocacy), Max Steuer, and of course, Earl Rogers (who is often cited by trial lawyer aficionados as the greatest trial lawyer of the 20th century, and who is cited as the basis for Erle Stanley Gardner’s character Perry Mason). Unfortunately, few of the cross examination methods discussed in the biographies of these early masters who used cutting edge ideas for their time, would be effective with today’s jurors or witnesses. Nor would certain conduct (such as Rogers’ shooting of a gun in a courtroom without warning) be wise in today’s courtrooms. This is why we caution lawyers to update their litigation skills rather than relying upon methods that are outdated.

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Preparing for Depositions

Preparing for Depositions

*For your clients*

This DVD is not for lawyers, but assists lawyers in preparing their injured clients for personal injury litigation depositions and trial testimony. In Preparing for Depositions, attorney Karen Koehler, instructs your client and witnesses on how to testify truthfully and successfully. Through easy-to-understand "Do" and "Don't" scenarios, Koehler guides your witness out of the pitfalls of messy and potentially devastating testimony. The DVD is broken down into ten short, essential rules of testimony that all of your witnesses need to know. Preparing for Depositions is something you can use in every litigation case to minimize your deposition and testimony preparation time. (*Please note, Trial Guides suggests that while this video will reduce a lawyer's preparation time for each witness, and lead to better prepared witnesses, it should not take the place of a specific discussion between the lawyer and each witness on the facts of the case).

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