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					         The Rules for Questioning Witnesses


1. The Form of the Question
   -- before you can properly examine someone on the
   witness stand, you have to know how to ask questions
   properly
   -- there are a set of rules that explain this ….
Narration      • Testimony is not a Larry King Live
               interview.
              • It
Leading Question is supposed to be structured around
              discrete events
            -- Example: “Would you describe in your
Compound Question
            own words what happened?”
               -- this question requires a story-telling
Foundation     response [explain]
             -- Notice that the basis of the objection is
Argumentative proper objection: “Objection, your honor,
                                 stated
             the question calls for a narrative response”
                          (More about Narration”)
               (short form: “Objection,this later)
Cumulative
                       • Questions that suggest their answer
  Narration
                       -- It is helpful to think of two concepts
                       here
  Leading Question
                          • structurally leading
                          “ you didn’t take your medications,
 Compound Question        did you?”
                          (the “did you” at the end will always
  Foundation              make this leading)
Dropping the “did
 you” or “isn’t that      •substantively leading
  Argumentative
correct” at the end       “Isn’t it true that you took 100 mg of
  of the question         Valium thirty minutes before you
  doesn’t save
  Cumulative it           started driving the vehicle at a high
                          rate of speed?”
  Narration          -- A question that is not leading:
                         “Did you take your medications that
                         day?”
  Leading Question

                     • Leading questions are ALLOWED on
Very important rule: cross examination and PROHIBITED on
 Compound Question
                     direct examination
 Foundation          -- If it is your witness, you cannot lead
                     him/her
 Argumentative          (some exceptions: children and the
                        feeble, or a hostile witness etc.)
 Cumulative          -- form of the objection:
                        “Objection, leading”
Narration


Leading Question

                    -- asking two questions at once:
Compound Question
                       “Did you take your medications
                       that day and how fast did you
Foundation             drive?”
                    - “Objection, compound Question”
Argumentative


Cumulative
                • -- Do it this way:
Narration         “do you have of the story
              • You get ahead any medical conditions?”
                   “did you take treated for the anti-seizure
                  “are you beingyour prescribedcondition?”
Leading Question
                   medications before you for the
                  “do you take medication drove in the
                   accident?”
                  problem?”
Compound Question “does the leading”
              -- “Objection,medication prevent your
                   seizures?”
Foundation        “are you able to drive safely after taking
                  the medication?”
 “assuming a fact not in” evidence
Argumentative     “did you take the medication before you
                   drove on the night of November 3rd?”
Cumulative
Narration


Leading Question

               -- straight forward:
Compound Question
                   “Why are you such a scumbag”
                   “I bet that beating your wife make you
Foundation
                   feel real good” [depending on context]

Argumentative   -- “objection, argumentative”


Cumulative
                -- Where you ask a question that you have
                already asked earlier
 Narration
                   “So Pete, did you ever bet on baseball?”

 Leading Question “Are you telling me you never once bet
                  on baseball?”
                 --
 Compound Question if asking twice is for rhetorical
                 purposes, probably will have some
                 latitude (cross examination technique)
 Foundation      -- but if you are asking just because you
                  don’t like the answer or are confused,
 Argumentative    probably get flagged
“asked and answered”
 Cumulative
                The Evidence “Game”


-- What the lawyers do with objections:
    (a) you are only going to object to the form of a question if
   the question is harmful to the case
       (the point is never to enforce the rule for its own sake)
       -- so if your opponent is asking leading or narrative or
       compound questions about non-important matters, you
       will not waste your time objecting.
       (In fact, doing otherwise would irritate the Court)
   (b) as a general rule, you cannot make the objection late
   and you must state the basis – or else you lose.
            The Evidence “Game”


   -- for example, you can’t say, “your honor, I object to
   what was said a few minutes ago”
-- this makes objection a kind of game
-- if your opponent is not skillful or prepared enough to
make the right objection at the right time, you can slide
things by

				
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posted:2/5/2011
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