How To Be Better At Cross-Examination Than The Lawyer From Serial

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Sometimes the best way to figure out how to do something is to first figure out how not to do it. If you want to learn how to cross-examine, why not start with listening (ending at 30:30) to how Cristina Gutierrez cross-examined Jay Wilds in the Adnan Syed case (the topic of last year’s Serial podcast)?

What went wrong? Just about everything. Her questions are long, convoluted, with no indication of where she’s going. All of this made her look bad and Jay Wilds look good, which was no small feat.

And here’s a start on how to do it right.

The video illustrates some components of a good cross-examination:

  • A good transition;
  • Short questions, with one fact per question;
  • Build up to powerful impeachment;
  • Good tone; and
  • Doesn’t alienate the jury.

Isn’t this a simpler and more effective way to do cross-examination?

You can find the rest of Terry McCarthy’s cross-examination lectures here. (H/T Professor Charlie Rose.)

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  • Terrific find. I’ve been to one of his lectures and read his book, but being able to re-listen before big cases will be great. I’m also making all of my mock trial students watch these.

    • Brendan Kenny

      Thanks! Isn’t it an incredible set of lectures? People tell me, but it’s so long! I wish I could sit them down and will them to watch all seven parts. They won’t regret it.