Direct examination is a series of open-ended question by an attorney directed to a witness that the attorney has called for the purpose of testimony. The questions in and of themselves do not suggest an answer. When posed properly, they allow the witness to tell a story to the court. Examples of direct examination questions include: Where do you live? How many children do you have? Where do you work? Where did you receive your degree? By contrast, cross-examination questions are very pointed, specific questions which suggest either a “yes” or “no” answer. Examples of direct examination questions are: Isn’t it true you made $200,000.00 last year? You have three children? Your spouse traditionally does the homework with the child? These types of questions are intended to lock a witness into providing an answer that the attorney asking the questions desires. The best defense against cross-examination questions and providing answers, which otherwise appear harmful, is to have your attorney first address those problematic issues on direct and minimize the damage that may be done by an effect cross-examination.
Gregory D.R. Behringer is a family lawyer at the law firm of Laufter, Dalena, Cadicina, Jensen & Boyd, LLC in Morristown, New Jersey. View the firm’s Divorce Magazine profile.
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