A Basic Introduction to Cross Examination

A Cross-Examination is a leading question-answer based exchange between an attorney and a witness. The purpose of a cross exam is to extract unfavorable facts from the case that may help discredit the witness.

Cross exams utilize leading questions which are not open-ended and implies an answer.

Leading Questions:

→ The color of the sky was blue, right?

→ Isn’t it true that the sky was also cloudy, correct?


A good crossing attorney will never ask a question to which he doesn’t already know the answer. A crossing attorney also does not like surprises and asking open-ended questions is one of them. Asking questions about who, what, when, where, and why is begging for problems.

The hardest part of crossing a witness is witness control. Many witnesses can be hostile, and the attorney needs to keep themselves under control at all times. By asking the right questions and keeping control of the witness while still being cordial, the attorney has a better chance of keeping the witness under control.

A crossing attorney should create short, to the point questions. By doing this, you limit the ability of the opposing witness to disagree with the question and argue your question. Questions must be undeniable. This means that you are asking questions that the witness must agree with since the witness cannot give an answer that differs from his affidavit without being impeached.

One question that a crossing attorney should never ask is called the Ultimate Issue Question. The Ultimate Issue is a question that the jury is there to decide upon. For example, asking the witness, “Isn’t it true that you hit the person with your car?”, Is never a good question or idea. Witnesses will never admit guilt on the stand.


Teams should NEVER filibuster! I will talk about this in the witness section, as well, but you NEVER want to filibuster. It may be a good strategy, and other teams may be using it, but they’re wrong in using it as a technique.

Filibustering may be tempting since you can destroy the other teams time and make the attorney lose witness control but the jurors will pick up on it and give you a low score based on it. Filibustering is also very rude and annoying to other teams and the jurors judging you. Only teams that are atrocious use filibustering as a technique. Furthermore, this doesn’t mean that you can’t explain yourself on Cross-Examination, but I would not go off topic. If the opposing attorney gives you an open-ended question, you’re allowed to go off as you please since the question is open-ended.


1. Rule of Three

Simple Chronology is a dull and outdated way of organization. In Mock Trial, cross-examinations should be organized in three topological points. Topical Organization is always most straightforward to do on cross-examination.

2. Be Friendly

Being friendly elevates your credibility with the jurors, gives you more favorability with the jurors and may extract more answers from your witness.

3. Get the Details

Focus on the details and probe for inconsistencies. Details are useful in preventing the witness from telling long and emotional stories.

4. Build your Point

Witnesses are more likely to give you the answers you want if they can’t see what you’re doing but make sure it’s clear at the end of the cross-examination. Don’t worry about starting strong on a cross.

5. Save Credibility Attacks for the End

Once you attack a witness’s credibility, don’t expect any more answers. Building incrementally won’t work, as well.

6. End Strong

Never sit down on an objection, and always have a backup question. It’s best to save the best questions for last.

7. Preparation is Key

Always have line numbers from the witness’s affidavit next to your questions so that you’re ready to impeach. Remember to bring your printed cross-examination with you even though you won’t be using it on the stand. You’re using it to find line numbers for impeachment

Know your witness’s affidavit better than your opponent.

8. Create A Style

What kind of attorney will you be? It’s best to be kind and controlled, but you will also be more aggressive? Attorney’s create their own style and signature to leave an impression on others.