It is beyond the scope of this publication to provide detailed information regarding cross-examination (i.e., questions asked by the opposing attorney, the one who did not invite you to participate in this case). However, there are some general areas that will likely be addressed:
The best way to handle cross-examination is the same way you handled the direct. Answer truthfully, don’t get angry, don’t get defensive, and if you don’t understand a question, say so. If all else fails, remember: in the grand scheme of this case, while it might not seem like it to you, your honest testimony is important—to the defendant, to any victims, and to the integrity of the criminal justice system. Do the best you can. That’s all anyone can ask of you.
Some frequently encountered pitfalls include: a) relying too much on notes and reports; b) arguing with defense counsel; c) appearing to be too invested in obtaining a conviction; d) offering unsolicited and improper conclusions and opinion testimony; e) being non-responsive to the point of adding gratuitous comments; f) using too much jargon; and g) being overly defensive when in error. Maintaining your composure and professionalism throughout this process is not always easy, but it is always important.