I have called cross-examination an art. Others call it a science. Either way to do it properly takes years of practice. After twenty-two years in business I am still learning new techniques.
Your ability or that of your Ontario paralegal to ask questions of the opposing side’s witnesses can be the difference between winning or losing your case.
Cross-examination is a tool that is only as good as the person wielding it. An experienced paralegal knows how to ask questions to obtain the answers helpful to their client.
The self-represented party who has little or no experience in court often does not know about the amount of preparation necessary to be good cross-examiner. They don’t know the skills necessary to elicit the answers needed.
Before we go further you must know the purposes of cross-examination. This tool is used to poke holes in the evidence of the opposing side’s witness. It is also used to gain admissions from the opposing side’s witnesses that strengthen your case.
Cross-examination is used in small claims court Ontario and the landlord and tenant board. It is also used in other courts and tribunals.
Do you need to ask questions of every opposing witness? No. The less seasoned legal representatives may feel pressure to ask questions of every witness. There is no need to cross-examine a witness that has not said anything to harm your case, and who has nothing to offer that would help your case.
Another novice problem I see is asking one too many questions. Though a carefully planned series of questions you may get a witness to admit an important fact. All can be lost if you ask one more question then necessary which allows the witness to say something that destroys your case.
How do you get the opposing side’s witnesses to admit facts favorable to your case? How do you ask questions based on documents? How do you use cross-examination to show a witness is not credible and should not be believed by the court or tribunal? How do you deal with a difficult to control witness?
There are many goods books that you can read to find answers to these questions. I recommend “Cross-Examination: Science and Techniques, 3rd edition.” However, there is no substitute for experience.
If you lack experience in cross-examining witnesses, we can help. Contact Marshall Yarmus (phone 416-229-1479 www.Civilparalegal.com) to represent you at your small claims court trial or landlord and tenant board hearing.