Cross-Examining a Greased Pig
Even the best trial lawyers sometimes muff their cross-examination. But one difference between the best lawyers and the rest of us may be in their ability to recover. At The Maryland Injury Lawyer Blog, Ronald V. Miller Jr. rummages through old ABA publications to find a 1988 article detailing how one skilled lawyer made up in closing argument for his failed cross-examination of a critical witness -- an FBI special agent named O'Rourke.
Miller does not name the lawyer, but he quotes at length from the transcript of the closing argument. Facing the jury, the lawyer concedes that, in cross-examining O'Rourke for 90 minutes, "I never laid a glove on him. I never touched him. Every time I thought I had him where I wanted him, he would slip away." But something about the witness struck him as familiar, the lawyer told the jurors. In eloquent style, he recounted his childhood on an Alabama farm, his visits to the county fair and his favorite game at the fair, the greased-pig contests. No matter how hard he tried to catch the pig, it would always slip away, he remembered. "That's where I've seen O'Rourke before," the lawyer said to the jury. "He's just like that greased pig." A good line, but not the end of the story. The best part of the lawyer's closing argument was his next line, Miller says, which "changes this from a really good closing story to a great one." And the line was? Since Miller dug it up, I'll leave the telling to him.
Thanks to The Illinois Trial Practice Weblog for the link.
Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on December 14, 2006 at 05:22 PM | Permalink
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