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Effective Direct and Cross-Examination 2015

This classic tool for successful trial preparation and organization. John W. Keker and the late William A. Brockett, two of California’s most respected trial attorneys, share their stories and their wisdom on how to effectively examine witnesses at a civil or criminal trial.

“The 2015 edition of Brockett and Keker's Effective Direct and Cross-Examination is a “must have” on the desk of every trial lawyer. In a concise, well-indexed, easy-to-read format, this volume tells the essentials of effective trial advocacy, from the perspective of two of the leading trial lawyers of this generation. The book will be a great tool for novices, well-experienced trial lawyers, and everyone in between.”
Richard Marmaro, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, Los Angeles

This classic tool for successful trial preparation and organization. John W. Keker and the late William A. Brockett, two of California’s most respected trial attorneys, share their stories and their wisdom on how to effectively examine witnesses at a civil or criminal trial. Hone your courtroom performance with these solid techniques and insights, presented in a highly readable format. Read it in its entirety, peruse it as a source of trial ideas, or use it as a refresher for advocacy skills.

  • Strategy and tactics
  • Direct examination
  • Preparing to cross-examine
  • Time-honored rules of cross-examination—and when to break them
  • Conducting cross-examination
  • Preparing favorable witnesses for cross-examination
  • Examination of experts
  • Recurring examinations
  • Depositions
  • Examination of jurors
  • Objections and evidence
  • Mastering trial skills
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“The 2015 edition of Brockett and Keker's Effective Direct and Cross-Examination is a “must have” on the desk of every trial lawyer. In a concise, well-indexed, easy-to-read format, this volume tells the essentials of effective trial advocacy, from the perspective of two of the leading trial lawyers of this generation. The book will be a great tool for novices, well-experienced trial lawyers, and everyone in between.”
Richard Marmaro, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, Los Angeles

This classic tool for successful trial preparation and organization. John W. Keker and the late William A. Brockett, two of California’s most respected trial attorneys, share their stories and their wisdom on how to effectively examine witnesses at a civil or criminal trial. Hone your courtroom performance with these solid techniques and insights, presented in a highly readable format. Read it in its entirety, peruse it as a source of trial ideas, or use it as a refresher for advocacy skills.

  • Strategy and tactics
  • Direct examination
  • Preparing to cross-examine
  • Time-honored rules of cross-examination—and when to break them
  • Conducting cross-examination
  • Preparing favorable witnesses for cross-examination
  • Examination of experts
  • Recurring examinations
  • Depositions
  • Examination of jurors
  • Objections and evidence
  • Mastering trial skills

1

Strategy and Tactics

  • I. STRATEGY
    • A. Develop a Theory of the Case 1.1
    • B. Remain Flexible 1.2
    • C. Use Trial Time Limits Strategically 1.3
  • II. TACTICS 1.4
    • A. Case Atmosphere 1.5
    • B. Making the Case Comprehensible 1.6
    • C. Demonstrative Evidence 1.7
    • D. Logistics 1.8

2

Direct Examination

  • I. BASICS OF DIRECT EXAMINATION
    • A. Purpose of Direct Examination 2.1
    • B. Presentation of Direct Testimony 2.2
    • C. Eliciting Effective Direct Testimony 2.3
    • D. Witness Presentation 2.4
    • E. Counsel’s Role 2.5
    • F. Order of Witness Presentation 2.6
    • G. Starting Direct Examination 2.7
    • H. What Not to Do 2.8
    • I. Friendly Non-Party and Neutral Witnesses 2.9
  • II. PARTY WITNESSES
    • A. Preparation 2.10
    • B. Use of Video 2.11
    • C. Body Language; Visual Aids 2.12
    • D. Preparation During Trial 2.13
  • III. THIRD PARTY WITNESSES
    • A. Preparation 2.14
    • B. Witness Briefing 2.15
  • IV. CRISIS CONTROL 2.16

3

Preparing to Cross-Examine

  • I. COMPLEX AND SIMPLE CROSS-EXAMINATIONS 3.1
  • II. PREPARING FOR COMPLEX CROSS-EXAMINATION 3.2
    • A. Mastering the Details 3.3
    • B. Preparation for a Particular Witness
      • 1. Determine How to Approach the Witness 3.4
      • 2. Identify the Relevant Exhibits and Materials 3.5
    • C. Blocking Out Questions 3.6
    • D. Witness File 3.7
    • E. Final Preparation 3.8
  • III. PREPARATION FOR SIMPLE CROSS-EXAMINATION 3.9

4

Time-Honored Rules of Cross-Examination—And When to Break Them

  • I. USE CROSS-EXAMINATION TO CONTROL THE INFORMATION THE JURY HEARS 4.1
  • II. RULES FOR A GOOD CROSS-EXAMINATION AND WHEN TO BREAK THEM
    • A. Rule 1: Use Clear Questions Calling for Simple Answers 4.2
    • B. Rule 2: Keep Cross-Examination Short 4.3
    • C. Rule 3: Never Ask a Question if You Don’t Know the Answer 4.4
    • D. Rule 4: Control the Witness With Leading Questions 4.5
    • E. Rule 5: Do Not Repeat Direct Examination Testimony 4.6
    • F. Rule 6: Listen to the Witness 4.7
    • G. Rule 7: Never Ask “Why?” 4.8
    • H. Rule 8: Do Not Ask One Question Too Many 4.9
    • I. Rule 9: Do Not Irritate the Jury 4.10
    • J. Rule 10: Do Not Quarrel With or Browbeat a Witness 4.11
    • K. Rule 11: Save Something for Closing Argument 4.12
    • L. Rule 12: Do Not Cross-Examine if a Friendly Witness Will Cover the Area 4.13
    • M. Rule 13: Begin and End Your Examination With Your Strongest Questions 4.14
    • N. Rule 14: If the Witness Has Not Hurt Your Client’s Case, Do Not Cross-Examine the Witness 4.15

5

Conducting Cross-Examination

  • I. CROSS-EXAMINATION PURPOSES 5.1
  • II. PRINCIPLES OF CROSS-EXAMINATION 5.2
    • A. Model Cross-Examination 5.3
      • 1. Beginning With Force 5.4
      • 2. Evasive Witness 5.5
      • 3. Business Record 5.6
      • 4. Witness Falsehood 5.7
      • 5. Buttressing the Case 5.8
      • 6. Prior Inconsistent Statement 5.9
      • 7. Hostile Witness 5.10
      • 8. Refreshing Recollection 5.11
      • 9. Memorized Testimony 5.12
      • 10. Joint Preparation of Testimony 5.13
      • 11. Bias 5.14
      • 12. Selective Memory 5.15
      • 13. Demonstrative Evidence 5.16
      • 14. Pinning Down the Witness 5.17
      • 15. Witness Misconduct 5.18
      • 16. Ability to Perceive 5.19
      • 17. Incomplete and Altered Notes; Destroyed Evidence 5.20
      • 18. Prior Bad Act 5.21
      • 19. Bias of Another Witness 5.22
      • 20. Prior Inconsistent Statement by Third Party 5.23
      • 21. Discovery 5.24
      • 22. Admission of a Party Representative 5.25
      • 23. Principle of Completeness 5.26
      • 24. Bad Character of Informer 5.27
      • 25. Failure to Follow Written Guidelines 5.28
      • 26. Prior Convictions; Other Adverse Matters 5.29
      • 27. Examination as Argument 5.30
    • B. Routinely Helpful Questions 5.31
    • C. Examination to Focus on Prior Testimony 5.32
    • D. Failure to Report Facts Tending to Demonstrate Criminal Defendant’s Innocence 5.33

6

Preparing Favorable Witnesses for Cross-Examination

  • I. GOALS OF CLIENT PREPARATION 6.1
  • II. DECIDING TO HAVE CLIENT TESTIFY 6.2
  • III. FIXING FACTS 6.3
  • IV. ENCOURAGING HONESTY 6.4
  • V. MINIMIZING STAGE FRIGHT 6.5
  • VI. INCREASING CLIENT CREDIBILITY 6.6
  • VII. AVOIDING TRICKS AND TRAPS 6.7
  • VIII. FRIENDLY WITNESS PREPARATION 6.8
  • IX. MECHANICS OF PREPARATION 6.9
  • X. REHABILITATION BY RE-DIRECT 6.10
    • A. Deposition Contradicts Testimony 6.11
    • B. Mistaken Testimony on Cross-Examination 6.12
    • C. Mistaken Context 6.13
    • D. Misleading Implications 6.14
    • E. Statements of Bias 6.15
  • XI. SAMPLE DOCUMENTS
    • A. Form: Sample Cover Letter to Witness 6.16
    • B. Form: Sample Information for Witness 6.17
    • C. Form: Sample Advice to Witness 6.18
    • D. Form: Sample Pin-Down Letter to Witness 6.19

7

Experts

  • I. EXPERTS AS WITNESSES 7.1
  • II. DIRECT EXAMINATION 7.2
    • A. Qualifications 7.3
    • B. Contact With Case 7.4
    • C. Opinion 7.5
    • D. Jargon 7.6
    • E. Visual Aids 7.7
    • F. Admitting Normally Inadmissible Evidence 7.8
  • III. CROSS-EXAMINATION OF EXPERTS 7.9
    • A. Attacking Facts 7.10
    • B. Attacking the Expert’s Weaknesses 7.11
    • C. Controlling the Witness 7.12
    • D. Attacking Qualifications 7.13
    • E. Voir Dire in Preparation for Experts 7.14
  • IV. ADMISSIBILITY OF EXPERT OPINION EVIDENCE
    • A. Admissibility of Expert Opinion Evidence—California Law
      • 1. Admissibility of Expert Opinion 7.15
      • 2. Admissibility of Scientific or Technical Expert Opinion
        • A. Kelly-Frye Standard for Admissibility of Testimony Based on New Scientific Techniques 7.16
        • B. Not All Scientific Expert Opinion Is Subject to Kelly-Frye Rule 7.17
    • B. Admissibility of Expert Scientific Opinion Evidence—Federal Law (The Daubert Standard) 7.18

8

Recurring Examinations

  • I. INTRODUCTION 8.1
  • II. BIASED WITNESS 8.2
  • III. APPARENTLY NEUTRAL WITNESS 8.3
  • IV. SELECTIVE MEMORY 8.4
  • V. PRIOR INCONSISTENT STATEMENTS 8.5
  • VI. EMPLOYEE OF HOSTILE PARTY 8.6
  • VII. REFRESHING RECOLLECTION 8.7
  • VIII. PAST RECOLLECTION RECORDED 8.8
  • IX. BUSINESS RECORD 8.9
  • X. ESTABLISHING AGENCY 8.10
  • XI. THE EVASIVE WITNESS 8.11
  • XII. CHARACTER WITNESSES 8.12
  • XIII. HABIT, CUSTOM, AND PRACTICE 8.13
  • XIV. OBSERVATION AND PERCEPTION 8.14
  • XV. UNIMPEACHABLE WITNESS 8.15

9

Depositions

  • I. IMPORTANCE OF DEPOSITIONS 9.1
  • II. ORGANIZING, CONDUCTING, AND DEFENDING A DEPOSITION
    • A. Organization 9.2
      • 1. Prepare Chronology 9.3
      • 2. Prepare Relevant Documents 9.4
      • 3. Make a Deposition Book 9.5
    • B. Beginning the Deposition
      • 1. Introductory Remarks 9.6
      • 2. The “Usual Stipulations” 9.7
      • 3. Consider Timing for Important Questions 9.8
    • C. Taking Depositions
      • 1. Control the Atmosphere 9.9
      • 2. Address Witness’s Memory Loss 9.10
      • 3. Develop Routine Questions 9.11
    • D. Defending Depositions 9.12
      • 1. Witness Preparation 9.13
      • 2. Review Witness Guidelines and Documents 9.14
      • 3. Discuss Examiner’s Personality 9.15
      • 4. Defense Demeanor 9.16
      • 5. Refreshing Recollection versus Waiving Privilege 9.17
      • 6. Compelling a Witness to Answer 9.18
    • E. Other Deposition Considerations
      • 1. Making a Record for the Jury 9.19
      • 2. Commenting on Corrections to Deposition Testimony 9.20
      • 3. Confirming Admissions 9.21
      • 4. Using Video Depositions 9.22
      • 5. Reviewing Transcripts and Developing Subsequent Discovery 9.23
      • 6. Subpoenaing Most Knowledgeable Person 9.24
      • 7. Deposing Opposing Counsel 9.25
    • F. Direct Examination at Deposition 9.26
  • III. TAKING AND USING VIDEO 9.27
  • IV. DEPOSITION ABUSES
    • A. Common Abuses 9.28
    • B. Countering Abuses 9.29
    • C. Improper Objections and Proper Responses
      • 1. Instruction Not to Answer Based on Form 9.30
      • 2. Misleading 9.31
      • 3. Question Calls for Speculation 9.32
      • 4. Argumentative or Harassing 9.33
      • 5. Leading 9.34
      • 6. Irrelevant 9.35
      • 7. Asks for a Legal Conclusion 9.36
      • 8. Assumes a Fact Not in Evidence 9.37
      • 9. Confusing 9.38
      • 10. Improper, Except as the Subject of Interrogatories 9.39
  • V. SAMPLE DEPOSITION WITNESS GUIDELINES 9.40

10

Examination of Jurors

  • I. OVERVIEW 10.1
    • A. Major Aims of Voir Dire 10.2
    • B. Other Considerations 10.3
  • II. PREPARATION FOR VOIR DIRE
    • A. Juror Background 10.4
    • B. Rating Jurors 10.5
    • C. Jury Selection: The Rules of the Game 10.6
      • 1. Alternate Jurors 10.7
      • 2. Grounds for Challenging Jurors 10.8
      • 3. Peremptory Challenges in State Court 10.9
      • 4. Peremptory Challenges in Federal Court 10.10
    • D. Voir Dire Tactics 10.11
    • E. Form: Proposed Voir Dire 10.12
    • F. Jury Questionnaire 10.13
    • G. Preparing Voir Dire Questions 10.14
  • III. PERTINENT LAW
    • A. In Chambers Voir Dire 10.15
    • B. Impermissible Questions 10.16
    • C. Prohibition on Discrimination in Voir Dire 10.17
    • D. Juror Lying and Bias 10.18
  • IV. QUESTIONING AND SELECTION
    • A. Overview 10.19
    • B. Selecting the Jury: Sample Questions 10.20
    • C. Educating the Jury: Sample Questions 10.21
    • D. Establishing Jury Rapport 10.22
    • E. Structuring the Case 10.23

11

Objections and Evidence

  • I. COMMON OBJECTIONS
    • A. Purposes 11.1
    • B. Tactics
      • 1. Weigh the Consequences of an Objection 11.2
      • 2. Use Motions In Limine to Address Known Evidentiary Issues 11.3
      • 3. Be Ready for Issues That Arise During Examination 11.4
      • 4. Minimize Adverse Jury Reaction 11.5
      • 5. Be Prepared When the Court Overrules Your Objections 11.6
      • 6. Make an Offer of Proof 11.7
      • 7. Be Prepared for Judicial Error 11.8
    • C. Frequent Objections 11.9
      • 1. Irrelevant 11.10
      • 2. Prejudice or Confusion Outweighs Probative Value 11.11
      • 3. Hearsay 11.12
      • 4. Leading 11.13
      • 5. Compound 11.14
      • 6. Nonresponsive 11.15
      • 7. Beyond the Scope of Direct or Cross 11.16
      • 8. Calls for Speculation 11.17
      • 9. Additional Objections 11.18
  • II. FREQUENTLY MADE IMPROPER OBJECTIONS
    • A. Best Evidence 11.19
    • B. Document Speaks for Itself 11.20
    • C. Calls for Narrative Answer 11.21
    • D. Assumes Facts Not in Evidence 11.22
    • E. Misquotes Witness or Misstates Evidence 11.23
    • F. Calls for an Expert or Legal Opinion 11.24
    • G. Asked and Answered 11.25
    • H. Argumentative 11.26
  • III. SPECIAL SITUATION OBJECTIONS
    • A. When Proper Objection Not Clear 11.27
    • B. Repeated Improper Questions 11.28
  • IV. OTHER OBJECTIONS 11.29

12

Organizing for Trial

  • I. MECHANICS OF GETTING TO TRIAL 12.1
    • A. Timeline Checklist
      • 1. Research Needed to Create a Timeline 12.2
      • 2. Checklist: Trial Timeline 12.3
    • B. Pretrial Motions to Consider in Final Preparation 12.4
  • II. COLLECTING MATERIALS 12.5
  • III.CIVIL TRIAL FILE ORGANIZATION
    • A. Checklist: Trial File Categories 12.6
    • B. Checklist: Trial Book Categories 12.7
    • C. Witness Examination Book 12.8

13Mastering Trial Skills

  • I. INTRODUCTION 13.1
  • II. RULES OF EVIDENCE IN STATE AND FEDERAL COURT 13.2
  • III. TIMING IS EVERYTHING 13.3
  • IV. EXPERTISE ON EXPERTISE 13.4
  • V. VOIR DIRE REVISITED: THE BULL’S VIEWPOINT 13.5
  • VI. IMPEACHMENT: LAST REFUGE OF A SCOUNDREL? 13.6
  • VII. HONEY, I SHRUNK THE CLIENT 13.7
  • VIII. SOMETHING FOR NOTHING 13.8
  • IX. INFANTICIDE: STRANGLING DEPOSITION: ABUSES IN THE CRADLE 13.9
  • X. STAMPING OUT DISCOVERY ABUSE 13.10
  • XI. TRIAL RUN: THE VIDEOTAPE REVOLUTION (TRIAL) 13.11
  • XII. A QUESTION OF CHARACTER: USE AND MISUSE OF CHARACTER EVIDENCE 13.12
  • XIII. EXPERTS: WHAT GOES IN, WHAT STAYS OUT—POP QUIZ 13.13
  • XIV. TRIAL RUN: EVERYBODY’S GOT AN OPINION 13.14
  • XV. HOW TO OBJECT WITHOUT BEING OBJECTIONABLE 13.15

About the Authors

WILLIAM A. BROCKETT (deceased), after working as a federal public defender, practiced criminal defense and business law in San Francisco for more than 20 years, most of that time in the firm he founded with attorney John W. Keker. Mr. Brockett received his B.S. from the U.S. Naval Academy and his LL.B. from Yale University.

JOHN W. KEKER, co-founder of San Francisco litigation firm Keker & Van Nest, is known as one of the top trial attorneys in the country. Named to The National Law Journal’s list of the “Top 100 Most Influential Lawyers in the United States,” he has handled some of the country’s most high-profile white collar criminal cases and complex business litigation. After earning his B.A.,cum laude, from Princeton and his J.D. from Yale University, Mr. Keker clerked for Hon. Earl Warren, former Chief Justice of the United States.

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PRACTICE AREA Civil Litigation & Torts
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PRACTICE AREA Civil Litigation & Torts
PRODUCT GROUP Publication