Direct Examination and Harmful Facts

Direct Examination and Harmful Facts
Ron Miller at the Trial Lawyer Resource Center discusses the “sponsorship” rule for direct examination. Like Miller, I have always heard that it is better to address harmful facts in direct examination (“sponsor”them) than to let opposing counsel bring out those facts on cross. But Robert Klonoff and Paul Colby, in their book Sponsorship Strategy: Evidentiary Tactics for Winning Jury Trials, disagree. According to Miller, their “theory is that you actually lose credibility by bring up your own weaknesses and that the cross examining lawyer often looks petty and nitpicking by bring up much of what you felt compelled to get out the sting of in your direct.” Like Miller, I agree with the “sponsorship” rule, but with some balance and common sense. Klonoff and Colby are right that a lawyer could look “petty and nitpicking” by bringing out all the harmful facts about a witness on direct examination. So keep in mind that you don’t have to bring out all the harmful facts on direct. In his post, Miller also directs readers to Personal Injury Help Center that has sample direct and cross examination outlines. I have not reviewed the outlines enough to recommend them, but they are certainly a good place to start and get ideas. Check them out here.



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