Legal Information

At the Hearing

What if my witness’s credibility is damaged during cross-examination?

Just like you will be cross-examining the opposing party’s witnesses to try to make them less believable (“damage their credibility”), the same thing may happen to your witnesses. If your witness’s credibility is damaged in this way, you may be able to ask questions on “re-direct” after your witness is cross-examined. On re-direct, you can only ask questions related to the cross-examination. Using open-ended questions, you can ask for a witness to provide more detail and explain away any testimony that you believe was damaging.

For instance, let’s take the example given in the prior question where you cross-examined the opposing party’s witness regarding the blue bus line. If the opposing party got a chance to re-direct the witness, it might look like this:

  • Opposing party: You testified on cross-examination that you took the blue bus line to the park on Saturday but then you acknowledged that the blue bus line only runs on weekdays. Can you explain this inconsistency in your testimony?
    • Witness: I got confused because I always take the blue line bus to the park but I usually go on Fridays. Now I remember that I waited for the bus that Saturday and it never came so I took an Uber. I have the proof on my phone actually of that Uber ride and it shows the date and time.

Keep the possibility of re-direct in mind if your witnesses’ testimony has been damaged by the other party’s cross-examination, but don’t ask for a re-direct unless it is absolutely necessary. Re-direct can open the door to re-cross, which could produce more damaging testimony. Also, judges often won’t allow re-direct in an effort to move trials along.

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