A lot of people think that a lawyer should talk and talk in a trial. But what if you the officer testifying in your client’s DWI trial fails to actually say anything particularly damaging? The state rests. Now it’s time for the defense attorney to decide what to do.
He’s got his client sitting next to him. The client probably thinks his attorney should stand up and grill the officer. After all, hasn’t the client paid a lot of money to have his lawyer talk a lot?
More cases have been lost by a lawyer who talks too long, asks one too many questions, or badgers the witness until the judge or jury starts to dislike the lawyer. The best advocacy is professional, clean, and to the point. The best advocacy distills the issues down to the fundamental points.
Defense work sometimes does call for obfuscation and filibustering. But more often than not a good, clean cross examination that is polite, straightforward, calls for “yes or no” responses, and is short can win the day.
That’s just what I did two weeks ago in two different trials involving clients who blew well above the legal limit. In both cases, the prosecutor failed to elicit testimony sufficient to show the officer had probable cause to arrest my client. In both cases, the officers were not clear and specific in explaining why they thought my client was driving while impaired.
And in both cases, I didn’t ask any questions at all.
Cases closed, cases won.