Trial Transcript: Impeaching Lying Witness

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Q: Ms. Jones. You realize that when the police interviewed you, they were wearing body worn cameras? A: Actually I didn’t know that. That’s not something I was aware of.

Patience. Not drama.

At a recent trial, I called my client’s mother as our only witness.  I regretted this almost immediately. We had interviewed her. We had subpoenaed her. We had prepared her. And I should have left her sitting in the hall outside the courtroom as I rested my case.

The difference between a leading and non-leading question

“What is your name?”  That is a non-leading question.  Compare that with “Your name is John Smith, isn’t it?” That would be leading.  It basically tells the witness what his answer should be. 

On the true meaning of “tragedy”

A man is charged with soliciting a prostitute.  He is a Lyft driver who, on the night in question, drops off a customer in D.C.  A female undercover officer approaches the car while he is pulled over.  What happens next is contested. 

Laying the Foundation for an “Excited Utterance”

Q. Officer. When you arrived, the altercation was still on-going, right?
A. That’s right.
Q. So you have no idea how it started?
A. No, I don’t.
Q. When you arrived, my client had a bottle in her hand?
A. Correct.
Q. And he had a piece of wood in his hand, right?

Police Officers as Neutral, Disinterested Witnesses

I like most of the police officers I work with.  Access to body worn camera footage has also given me greater respect for what they do:  I have seen them deal with volatile and potentially dangerous situations with sensitivity and respect.  But this notion of police officers as neutral, disinterested third party observers who testify impartially on behalf of the government is ridiculous. The officers do pick a side – and it is the government’s. 

Impeachment on Personnel Records

Q:        If you lost your body worn camera, you could get written up for that, right? A:         Yeah, if you lost it, yes.  But in this situation, it was knocked off or fell off, whatever have you –… Read More

Imperfect Impeachment and Kamala Harris

It is my Kamala Harris moment. You recall her questioning of Brett Kavanaugh at his confirmation hearing.  She sets him up carefully:  Q:  Judge, have you ever discussed Special Counsel Mueller or his investigation with anyone? A:  Well,… Read More

The Rule on Witnesses at a D.C. DMV Hearing

DEFENSE:  Before I begin my argument, I’d like to invoke the rule on witnesses. HEARING EXAMINER: The what?  The rule on witnesses? DEFENSE:  Yes, sir.   The sergeant has concluded his testimony.  He will be a witness against my client… Read More

“No Questions, Your Honor”

When it comes to cross-examination, I consider myself a minimalist. I figure out what I need from the witness. I tell my version of the story. And I ask the witness to agree with me. Some lawyers have… Read More