Cross-examinations are a series of goal-oriented exercises; each designed to make a particular point. It is necessary to envision the case in very small increments. The more important the topic, than more likely it needs to be subdivided into smaller parts so that each part may be separately proved as fully as possible.
Discovery is the material made available by the opponent. In criminal cases, discovery is generally more restrictive than in civil. In a criminal case the defense counsel must push for as much discovery as possible.
The creation of a topic page, a cross-examiner can see how facts support or fail a topic. The topic page should contain facts in a form immediately capable of insertion into a cross-examinationchapter. Counsel should recognize that a single topic requiring multiple pages of facts will likely support more than one chapter at trial. The minimal contents of a Discrete Topic page should include
1. Name of Witness
2. Title or Brief Description of the topic
3. Facts relating to the top
4. Source of the fact
Every case develops its own set of topics, so the topics used in one identification case –for example – will vary from the topics in a prior identification case.
The lawyers job is to transplant NOT translate. It is critical to move the information out of discovery and on to the appropriate topic page making sure testimony is not changed. Complete accuracy is attainable and must be demanded. This is critical because the words that are on the topic page become the leading questions of cross-examination.
A topic page entry is incomplete unless the source page and line number/s of the page of discovery is noted so that the fact can be instantaneously relocated.
The topic page system of cross-examination preparation is an excellent method to prepare for the chapters of cross-examination needed to attack the credibility of a witness or to attack the credibility of a story told by multiple witnesses.
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