Ethiroli - Sivaji's Cross Examination

How To Destroy Witness’ Credibility?

Witnesses play a very important role in criminal cases. They help to clarify what happened by telling the judge or jury everything they know about an event. So the opposing counsel has got really important witness on the stand and it hurts your case, this blog post might prove useful to you. Now straight to the point, destroying witness’ credibility involves several steps but I would classify them into 3 most important steps-

1). Researching/Investigating witness.

2). Planning

3). Execution

  1. Investigating witness

If you watch any legal shows or movies(I do), this step is a really important step. As soon as you get the witness list – Research about them. Investigate them. Hire a PI (Private investigator) and ask them to do it for you. If the witness is an expert witness find their research paper, previous testimonies and credibility of their testimony. If the witness is a friend or a relative of your client find out about their relations.
To be precise (and not to be too melodramatic) -“Find dirt on them.” Which you are going to use against them in court.
Now let’s proceed to-

  1. Planning

This is where you require your legal mind to convert the raw data into information. And figure out the way to use that information in court. Plan the questions you are going to ask, arrange the questions so that the judge/jury gets a clear idea that you are trying to convey, the witness isn’t credible enough. Make a plan about possible reactions of the witness and have other set of questions ready if answers differ or opposing counsel objects.
After you are done with planning, its time for proper execution – which is our next step.

  1. Execution

So, now you’re in court question the witness. Of all the steps, I believe this is the most important step. After all the research and planning, if you don’t execute them properly then that all was a complete waste. Ask the questions as arranged so that the facts you are suggesting get into the mind of judge/jury and they can connect them and understand your side of the case.
For instance- I will give you a standard set of questions to be asked to destroy the witness’ credibility.

Q. What is your profession?
A. I’m unemployed.

Q. Have you ever been arrested?
A. Yes/ No. If yes then it should follow -what charge and were you convicted? If he/she lies on the stand saying no (if they were arrested), time to use the information you found during the investigation. Now the last person judge/jury will believe is that witness.

Judge/Jury won’t see a person lying on the stand, but the unemployed man who was arrested and committed perjury.

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