New York Personal Injury Law Blog » Trial Practice


September 25th, 2007

Ahmadinejad and Cross-Examination

The appearance of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Columbia University was the source of much angst in many quarters. But it was also an important lesson for trial attorneys.

Sometimes, we get witnesses who can’t answer a question directly, no matter how straightforward. The witness dodges and weaves and ultimately gives answers that defy credulity.

An example from press reports yesterday, was Ahmadinejad claiming that there were no homosexuals in Iran. Not one.

Sometimes the best way to approach such a witness is not to shut them down, but to let them talk. And talk. And talk. Let the jury see the evasiveness. And when the question isn’t answered, simply say, “Perhaps I asked the question poorly, let me try again.” Then ask it again the same way. And again.

Hand them all the rope they want to hang themselves.

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