If your matter is set for a Final Hearing (otherwise known as a trial), you will likely be cross examined by the other party’s lawyer.
What is cross examination?
Cross examination is how evidence is ‘tested’. The other party or parties will ask you questions about your evidence with the aim of test your truthfulness, the veracity of the evidence in your affidavit or that you have given during proceedings and to gain evidence which may favour them or their client. Cross examination is also an opportunity for the Judge to gain an idea of your truthfulness, demeanour and character.
Cross examination forms the majority of a trial and can be rigorous and nerve wracking.
Tips for cross examination
We have compiled a number of tips to help you survive cross examination.
1. Listen carefully to the question
Do not cut off the person asking the question. Listen to the entire question and consider your answer, making sure that your answer addresses exactly what is asked.
2. Keep your answer simple and straightforward
A “yes” or “no” is almost always the best answer. Keep your answer as concise and straightforward as possible, saying no more than what is necessary to answer the question. Often the moment you say “because” you’ve gone too far.
3. Make sure you’re answer is an answer
Never argue with the question or person asking the question. Do not ask them questions. If a question should be objected to, your lawyer will object.
4. Avoid absolutes
Answering questions with “always” and “never” can quickly get you backed into a corner and gives the person asking the questions an opportunity to chip away at your credibility.
5. Ask for clarification
If you do not understand the question, did not hear the question or are unsure what is actually being asked, seek clarification from the person asking the question.
6. Don’t answer what you don’t know
If you do not know the answer to a question or cannot recall what is being asked about, don’t be afraid to say that you don’t know, don’t recall or cannot remember.
7. Do not use gestures
Do not use gestures such as nodding, shrugging or pointing. Articulate verbally by way of “yes”, “I don’t know” or describing what you are gesturing to and why, such as by saying “it cut diagonally across the top of my left hand”.
8. Speak clearly
The hearing is being recorded through the microphones on each table, these do not amplify your voice. Speak clearly and loudly enough for the Judge and lawyers to hear you.
9. Remain calm
The manner in which you answer questions will be taken into account by the judge. Someone who answers in an evasive, aggressive or heightened manner will be seen to be that kind of person. Mind your body language and tone of voice when answering questions, look at the person asking the question and address your answer to them, keep your tone calm and try to avoid sounding angry or uninterested.
10. Dress to impress
Court is a formal place, make a good impression on the judge by dressing appropriately. Although there is no dress code, try to wear business like clothes – leave the shorts, thongs and tee shirts for the weekend.
11. Remember why you are there
Cross examination is often designed to feel like a personal attack, and you may feel you need to retaliate or show the other side in the worst light possible. Focus on the truth and answering the questions, rather than trying to use the time in cross examination to convince the judge of anything about the other side. In parents matters, above all else, the matter is about the children. Do not let your dislike for the other party overshadow what you believe is in the children’s best interest.
If you find yourself facing a final hearing unrepresented or are seeking to change representation, contact our office for a free consultation on 07 5409 8000, or email email@example.com.