CROSS EXAMINATION TIPS
I am presently reading a book entitled Your Witness, which is essentially a compilation of cross-examination pointers collected from prominent Chicago lawyers. [In the interest of full disclosure, the book was sent to me, in the hopes I would mention it on my blog]. Having said that, I have thus far greatly enjoyed most of it, in part because I happen to know many of the contributors, and acutally worked for a couple of them. I will periodically include some of the better material. James Montana, a former federal prosecutor, contributed a chapter entitled “Knowing When to Stop”. Montana was representing one of a number of defendants charged with RICO violations for using the facilities of interstate commerce[i.e. credit cards] to further prostitution. The indictment charged that the defendants, through the guise of a health club, actually ran a house of prostitution. The defense was that the health club was indeed a health club. Turns out though, that particular defense wasn’t very compelling. The prosecution called a slew of witnesses, all of whom testified to sexual activity inside the club. According to Montana, the defense knew it was in trouble. One of the governnment witnesses however, didn’t hurt the defense. This guy, we’ll call him Mr. Holmes, worked in a bookstore owned by Montana’s client. The bookstore was right next to the club and Holmes testified that he went into the health club on a pretty regular basis, over a long period of time. Nonetheless, Holmes testified he never saw any acts of prostitution taking place. Montana concluded the witness was blind, and wisely chose not to ask any questions on cross. The attorney for one of his co-defendants however, couldn’t help himself. Montana then included the following dialogue[I eliminated only the name of the place so I don’t get sued]. Q: With regard to what observations you made in relation to activities going on at the health club, you would from time to time, exit the bookstore and go into the premises at the health club, correct? A: Correct. Q: On those particular occasions, when you went into the health club, you observed nothing specific, isn’t that correct? A: I saw a naked man on a dog leash once. Does that count as something specific? COURT: That is fairly specific. Montana writes that the laughter from the Court, the prosecutors, defense attorneys and spectators went on for several minutes. Sometimes you just have to leave well enough alone.