U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Working the Witness Puzzle (From The Litigation Manual, P 477-489, 1989, John G Koeltl, ed. -- See NCJ-117323)

NCJ Number
R F Hanley
Date Published
13 pages
This article discusses the preparation and presentation of lay witnesses; the order of presentation; preparing lay witnesses for the opponent's cross-examination; preparing for cross-examination of opponent's witnesses; and the preparation, presentation, and cross-examination of the expert witness.
Techniques for preparing the lay witness include a rehearsal of direct and cross-examination recorded on tape, followed by a playback and attorney comments. Some guidelines for the attorney are to ask questions on direct that elicit the precise information desired, not to repeat questions which receive favorable answers, and to bring out in direct issues likely to be addressed in cross-examination. A likely cross-examination from opposing counsel should be rehearsed with the witness. Preparation should strive for clarity, crispness, and conviction in the witness' testimony. Guidelines for the attorney in cross-examining an opponent's witness are to use means that raise doubts about the witness' credibility and to use the witness' deposition transcript to expose inconsistencies in the witness' story. The preparation of expert witnesses involves instruction in techniques for making complex information understandable to the lay jury. The cross-examination of an opponent's expert should expose uncertainties, qualifications, and alternatives to the expert's opinions or theories.


No download available