Jefferson and Washington monuments

Gilding the Lily on Cross-Examination

Jamison KoehlerTrial Advocacy

After you get what you need on cross-examination, you sit down.

The charge is unlawful entry. Both defendants had been issued a barring notice from the Meadowbrook Run Apartments, and the government alleges that the defendants violated this notice by entering an apartment at Meadowbrook Run.

During cross-examination, Attorney A gets the police officer to testify that he saw the defendants walking out of the Brandy Hill Apartment complex.  The Brandy Hill apartments are a block up from Meadowbrook Run.  There is nothing in the barring notice about Brandy Hill.

Attorney A never confronts the officer directly with the discrepancy between what is listed in the barring notice and where the officer testified he saw the defendants. But, to lock him into the testimony, Attorney A gets the officer to refer multiple times to Brandy Hill Apartments.

Once this has been accomplished, Attorney A sits down. Now it is Attorney B’s turn. He could say, “no questions, Your Honor.” What he does say is this:

Q:            That was a Meadowbrook Run Apartment barring notice?

A:            Yes.

Q:            The location that we’re talking about here is the Brandy Hill Apartments, right?

A:            Say it again.

[You can just see the alarm in the officer’s eyes as he realizes his mistake.]

Q:            The location of this event was the Brandy Hill Apartments, right?

A:            No, I believe it’s the Meadowbrook Run Apartments.  I might have confused the two because they’re on the same side of the block.  However, the event is in the 3200 block of 6th Street and that’s where I observed both respondents.

[There.  The officer has fixed things.  But Attorney B won’t let it go.]

Q:            You testified all along that this happened at the Brandy Hill Apartments?

A:            I believe I just stated it was just a mere oversight.  Both apartment complexes are on the same side of the street on Sixth Street, but on the corner is Meadowbrook Run.

Q:            On the corner is Meadowbrook?

A:            Yes, sir.

Q:            Didn’t you say that this was, this took place at the Brandy Hill apartments?

[One last try for Attorney B. But it is too late. The officer has realized his mistake. He is not going to make it again.]

A:            I know what I said but I’m saying now that it was Meadowbrook Run, on the corner.  It was my mistake.

[The mistake was made not by the officer but by Attorney B.  Next time:  “No questions, Your Honor.”]