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Trial Strategy: Do I Have to Cross-Examine Every Witness the Defense Puts On?

You'd expect an attorney to cross-examine every witness the other side puts on, right?

You're on opposite sides.

The doctor's attorney is putting on one witness after the other.

One medical expert after the next.

He also puts on a few eyewitnesses.

Since the trial is hotly contested, you expect that the patient's attorney will WANT to cross-examine each witness.

You'd expect to see that.

You want to see that battle.

You want to see the attorney attack the witness' credibility.

You want to see the witness break down in tears.

You want to watch an expert tactician tear apart a lying witness.

That's the drama inherent in every medical malpractice trial here in New York, right?

Well, not exactly.

You might be surprised to learn that not every witness needs to be cross-examined.

You might be surprised to learn that not every witness needs to be torn apart.

In fact, some witnesses can be built up.

For example, the defense puts on a medical expert.

If I get up to cross-examine him and he quickly agrees that my expert is a world-reknown authority, that my eliminate the need to attack certain points he's made during direct questioning by his own attorney.

If there is no strategic or tactical benefit to cross-examining an opposing witness, the attorney is much better off telling the judge "No questions Your Honor," when told he can begin cross-examination.

Even the defense attorney may be shocked to hear a patient's attorney say "I have no questions for this witness."

Just because you see every witness cross-examined on TV or in the movies, doesn't mean it's the best approach in a real trial.

The key is knowing what you need from each witness.

Can this witness help you?

Can he bolster your claim?

Can he destroy your claim if you cross-examine him?

What approach will you take?

Will you be nice and polite on cross-examination?

Will you be yelling and screaming, showing your righteous indignation?

Or, maybe a bit of both?

To learn even more about cross examination, I invite you to watch the video below...


Gerry Oginski
NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer