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  • $30.1 Million NYC - Medical Malpractice Case
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Will Aggressive Cross Examination Work Every Time

Sometimes an aggressive line of cross-examination by the plaintiff's attorney could backfire in a medical malpractice case. At trial, when the lawyer is cross-examining the doctor or a medical expert of the defense aggressively, it might backfire and harm the case if the lawyer is considering to be badgering the witness. However, if the doctor is combative, repeatedly refuses to answer the questions in simple yes or no, and fights with the attorney for every little word and semantics, then an aggressive cross-examination may not backfire.

The Jury will not Appreciate Unwarranted Aggression

The jury may not appreciate an aggressive line of questioning by the attorney towards certain witnesses. For instance, if the lawyer calls an old woman to the stand to ask about what she saw when the incident took place. Now if the lawyer is aggressive, the jury will not like it, and they will form a poor opinion about the lawyer which might harm the case. In the same way, if the lawyer takes an aggressive stand towards a witness who is a child-the jury is going to believe that attorney is far out of line.

Forming the Right Strategy

The line of questioning the lawyer takes should depend on the situation, the type of witness being questioned, and response of the witness. All this will be very fluid, and will vary between case to case, and from witness to witness. Aggressive cross-examination is in fact warranted in certain situations but that does not mean it can always work.

In many instances, during jury selection, lawyers tend to tell jurors that they can get aggressive or hostile while questioning witnesses during cross-examinations, and therefore jurors should not hold anything against lawyers or their clients. Lawyers will explain to the jury that they have a job to do and sometimes they have to be aggressive to get to the truth of the issue. Aggressive line of questioning might be needed to unearth facts and to find out the truth of what really happened.

When not to Use Aggressive Tactics

Often in movies and on TV, we see lawyers shouting questions and angrily badgering witnesses. However, in real life quite a bit of cross-examination is conducted politely and in a civil manner. There are instances when sarcasm, righteous indignation, and aggression are called for. Such strategies should suit the situation and be appropriate. If the jury feels the lawyer is being inappropriate, then aggressive strategies could backfire and spoil the case.

Jurors tend to become uncomfortable when there is hostility and shouting, and more so when it is directed towards older people, children, or towards a witness who appears to be docile and innocent. Therefore, a lawyer should choose his questioning strategy very carefully. He will have to take into account various aspects and estimate whether aggressive cross-examination is going to do more good than harm.

Different Personalities

There are several ways to unearth the truth, without using a highly aggressive line of questioning. A prudent lawyer will first evaluate the situation and review the type of witness he is about to question. If the witness were known to be evasive or combative, then certain amount of aggression would be necessary to obtain effective results.

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