September 01, 2014

Sidebar: Going Too Far with Witnesses

Kenneth P. Nolan

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One of my first trials, I cross-examined a medical expert who was celebrated for his sagacity and skill. He certainly looked and sounded like a distinguished movie star. Those more accomplished advised me to be cautious. I sniped at the vulnerable parts of his opinion; the doctor agreed with a smile or shrug, and I scampered to my seat somewhat relieved and emboldened. On redirect, the defense probed a bit more, but nothing too devastating. “Mr. Nolan, anything else?” the judge asked. I hesitated, rose slowly, and, voice filled with fury, attacked: “You’ll agree, won’t you, Doctor, that Mr. Montez is disabled from his job as a construction worker?”

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