Back to Basics – I Impeaching With Inconsistencies

  Advice on a listserve can be like medical, ‘scientific’ or political information on the internet – of questionable accuracy and dubious value.  Yet listserves persist and advice-givers proceed apace, sometimes requiring a cooler/older ‘head’ to intervene.  Such was the case on a criminal defense listserve, where a lawyer sought advice on how to impeach

PA Debates: Is a [Gruesome] Picture Worth 1,000 Words?

When is a photograph more disturbing than useful, particularly in an emotionally-charged trial such as a homicide case (and, more particularly, in a homicide trial where the victim is a young child)? At once a seemingly narrow inquiry, how this question is answered resonates in all sorts of cases, particularly criminal and personal injury, where

The Prosecutor Cross-Examines: A Guide to Avoiding Unfairness and Reversible Error

Prosecutors cross-examine much less frequently than do defense counsel, for good reason. Often defendants do not testify (with some data sets putting the number below the 50% threshold for felony cases that go to trial), whether because they have little too say, there is ample impeachment evidence the jury will not hear if they remain

When “I Object” Is Not Enough

The words “I object” should be passe. The availability of pre-trial motions in limine, as guaranteed by FRE 103, should ensure that evidentiary issues are thoughtfully considered and resolved before trial begins. But time constraints or unexpected developments may require a time-of-trial challenge to the admission of evidence, so knowing the “why” and “how” of objecting is essential. And, as is developed below, a mere “I object” may serve no legal or practical end.

Should You Use Notes During a Closing Argument?

The Hollywood lawyer – whether Gregory Peck, Kate Hepburn, Paul Newman or Denzel Washington – never speaks from notes. And Cousin Vinny, although he never had to give a closing, certainly had no paper in hand when he delivered his inimitable opening statement of “everything that guy said is [expletive deleted].” But it is the

The Ashley Madison “Hack” and Witness Character

The Ashley Madison website self-describes as “the most famous name in infidelity and married dating.” https://www.ashleymadison.com/ (last visited August 27, 2015). The hacking of the website resulted in the release of the names of tens of millions of subscribers – individuals who joined the website with the ability and apparently the intent to seek out

Hearsay: Debunking or Extolling the Evidence Once Admitted

Lawyers fight over hearsay admissibility, concentrating on whether foundational requirements have been met. But, once admitted, the hearsay is just ‘there.’ The leading textbooks on trial advocacy offer no advice on how to deal with hearsay, whether for the proponent to convince the jury of its reliability or the opponent to show its deficiencies. The