Psychology teaches that the first words a listener hears will be the words that the listener more easily remembers. The advocate has unparalleled opportunity to make important points in the first few minutes of a cross-examination.
Psychology also teaches that there is another equally identifiable and compelling principal called “recency”. The principal of recency holds that the last words a listener hears will also be long remembered. It is therefore important that the cross-examiner uses strong chapters in the concluding portions of across-examination.
The principles of primacy and recency have at least three applications in the field of cross-examination.
1. Sentence Structure
2. Chapter Structure
3. Entire Cross-Examination of Each Witness
Techniques That Teach Witness To Answer Leading Questions
1. Use voice inflection to signal the end of the questions
2. Use silence – patiently wait for answer, the silence creates tension and witness realizes attention is on them so they will be conditioned to provide an answer
3. Plan a flag – calls attention to question being asked
4. Explain rules of the court
Apply primacy and recency to chapter sequence and individual chapter construction. The advantages of primacy and recency in constructing chapters should not be ignored even when a chapter is informational, rather than confrontational.
As the goal of the chapter is met, the cross-examiner may add voice change or appropriate gesture or movement to highlight the goal fact obtained.
Primacy and recency should be applied to trial recesses. The advocate should be willing to restructure her sequences of chapters in order to begin strong at the beginning of the day and after each break, as well as end strong prior to each break and at the end of the day.
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