Can you all recollect the part oh in our favorite crime shows where they ask the witness questions on the stand in court? The prosecution side and defense both get turns to ask questions to the witness. In continuation of my previous post, today I bring to you direct examination. What is direct examination? Direct examination is the questioning of a witness by the party that has called that witness to give evidence, in order to support the case that is being made. I will be keying in on some tips on being effective when doing a direct examination. What is an effective direct examination? As the attorney want to ask simple questions, you don’t want your questions to be too much for the witness to understand and respond to. The rules to this are very simple: 1. Structure your questioning, 2. Ask focused questions that follow a logical train of thought. 3.“Argue” on direct examination. 4. handle the difficult witnesses. 5. Eliminate self-inflicted distractions. Structure is key. If you have everything ordered chronologically everything will flow and you will not lose track of where you going with your questioning. Your first questions should introduce the witness to the jury. Basic stuff like “Would you state you name for the jury?”. Next ask questions about their background in order to kind of shade in the picture of who this witness is. An example would be “What do you do for a living?”. Then proceed to ask the witness questions pertaining to the scene like “What was the weather that day?”, “Was it hot that day?”,”Was there debris?”. Then ask questions relating to whatever action that took place in the incident. “How did he move his hand?” or “What did you do when you X and Y fight?”.
You want the witness to be involved to really show how what happened when down. If you have any exhibits if live evidence, make questions tying into the evidence. You want to be demonstrative. For example “What did the gang member do with the gun?” ,”What did the gang member say when he held the gun up to you?”, “Are you able to demonstrate how the robber held the gun to your friend and told her he would kill her?”. Finally make questions about the aftermath or ending of the incident. Ask non-leading questions. Rule 611(a) provides: “leading questions should not be used on direct examination except as necessary to develop the witness’s testimony”. Things that can cause objections during direct exams: leading questions, Compound questions ,Calling for speculation ,Assuming fact not in evidence ,Irrelevant testimony ,and hearsay. Don’t be afraid to loop some questions. Looping is a great way of memory. Make sure to have some transitions when going onto other questions. Phrase like “Not I want to ask you about…”, “I’d like to go back to…”, “Now you said…”. Not all witnesses will be smooth and easy going. handle the difficult witnesses. try to keep them on track.