Learning Cross-Examination Techniques for Criminal Cases Through Experience

Of course the best way to learn how to cross-examine in criminal cases is to be either a prosecutor or criminal defense counsel and try a lot of cases. It is not unusual for defense counsel or a deputy prosecutor to learn by trial and error in trial. The downside is this sink-or-swim schooling in cross-examination can be not only the drowning of the cross-examiner but also someone else.

Another method is to practice cross-examination in professional development workshops for prosecutors or defense counsel or in law school classes where no one is hurt in the process. Cross-Examination Handbook offers opportunities for cross-examinations in two criminal cases that can be used in either law school or prosecutor or defense counsel workshops.

Case Files, Actors’ Guide and Teacher’s Manual

Cross-Examination Handbook comes with all the materials necessary for role-play performance exercises for cross-examination strategies and skills, including: case files; an Actors’ Guide with instructions for the witnesses, and a Teacher’s Manual (100 pages) covering how to conduct the cross-examination exercises as well as a schedule for professional development workshops and a syllabus for law school classes. The two criminal cases are State v. Gary Goodman and State v. Byron Ward Howland. Both fact patterns are based on actual cases.

State v. Gary Goodman

Gary Goodman and his brother Barry went to the Infernal Club for an evening of dancing. Gary Goodman had a .38 caliber revolver in his coat pocket. While they were inside the Infernal Club, Barry Goodman became engaged in a “staring” contest with Moe Helton, a local drug dealer who had a history of bad blood with Barry. The staring contest escalated into a confrontation, and the confrontation escalated into a fistfight. Barry came off second in the fistfight and Helton began to get the best of him.

Gary Goodman, who had been dancing on the dance floor, noticed the altercation and went over to intervene. Goodman drew the revolver from his pocket and began shooting. John Elder, a business associate of Helton in the drug trade, attempted to intervene in the fight, trying to disarm Gary. Gary shot Elder in the stomach. When Gary shot Elder, Shemp Campbell, another drug associate of Helton, also intervened and was able to disarm Gary Goodman. When Goodman was disarmed, he and his brother fled the Club. Moe Helton was pronounced dead on arrival at the Lincoln County Hospital, and John Elder underwent emergency surgery to repair the damage done to his stomach by the bullet. Barry Goodman was treated at Riverton Hospital for trauma suffered in the fight with Helton. Gary Goodman is charged with murder in the second degree, attempted murder in the second degree, and carrying a concealed firearm.

State v. Byron Ward Howland

State v. Byron Ward Howland is a high profile criminal case. The Lincoln County Prosecutor’s Office has charged state legislator Byron Howland with rape in the second degree, communicating with a minor for immoral purposes through electronic communication and three counts of child rape in the third degree.

The prosecution contends that Howland is an Internet predator who lured in 15 year-old Jenny Sells first through talks in a chat room and later by inviting her to his condominium where he resided when he is attending a legislative session is the state capitol of Georgetown. Allegedly, Howland raped her in his condo in December two years ago. Afterwards he expressed remorse, and their relationship continued until June last year when Jenny’s mother took printouts of their Internet exchanges to the Georgetown Police Department’s Detective Bill Hutchinson. Jenny told the Detective about her relationship with Howland. Howland has made no pretrial comments about the case except that it is “patently false.”

The Assignments

The law school class or CLE workshop assignments for cross-examination correspond to chapters of Cross-Examination Handbook and provide practical experience in the areas covered by the chapters. For example, chapter 6 covers how to impeach a witness with a prior inconsistent statement and assignments and Case File materials are provided so that law students and practicing lawyers can perform such an impeachment with. The versatility of the materials allows the instructor to select as many or as few of the assignments for the students/attorneys to perform as the instructor wishes to cover.

Each assignment comes with suggested reading, which the instructor may assign. For instance, the instructor may assign readings in Cross-Examination Handbook to which the assignment is cross referenced with suggested selected readings for each assignment.

For more information about the two civil cases and Cross-Examination Handbook, visit the book’s website here.