16 July 2007

What a way to start a cross

In the same case above the defendant called his sister, Mrs. Patterson, to testify. She backs up the defendant's version of the story. However on cross I'm able to get her to admit that she was on the other side of the truck where she couldn't have seen what actually happened. But that's not the interesting part; the interesting part was how the cross examination began.

After the defendant's attorney finished his questions, I stepped up to the podium to start my questions. I start out with one it's not all that important and really just kind of a throwaway question. And the conversation proceeds something like this:
Me: Mrs. Patterson, how long is the driveway?

Mrs. Patterson: I don't have ruler. I don't know.

Me: Well then, about how long is the driveway?

Mrs. Patterson: I don't have a ruler; I've never gone out measured it. I don't know.

Me: Well, is it 100 feet? 70 feet?

Mrs. Patterson: Like I said, I don't know. I'm not good with distances.
At this point I decided try something different. During his questioning, defense counsel and asked her how far she was from where the incident took place. He'd done that without asking her actual distances; he just asked if it was about the distance from the witness box to the defense table. And she didn't have any problems with that.
Me: Let's try it a different way. Is the driveway as long as the courtroom, or maybe two courtrooms?

Mrs. Patterson: I don't know. I never measured it. And I don't know how long this courtroom is.

Me: So you can't tell the jury how long the driveway is?

Mrs. Patterson: No. I don't how long the driveway is.
At this point I just moved on to other questions. I'm still not exactly sure what the lady hoped to gain by refusing to tell me how long the driveway was.

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