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Cross-Examination

Having just read the accounts of the Whitey Bulger trial, I am reminded of one judge’s adage, “cross-examine and cross-examine vigorously.” Certainly the prosecution’s witness, James Martorano, deserves this as will the defendant himself, assuming, as expected, he takes the witness stand. What is the concept behind cross-examination?

Basically, in the fresh air of the courtroom—and I don’t mean that literally—the truth will emerge. This is especially true under the glare of the jury and judge.

The constant question is whether the witness is credible. The judge charges the jury in explicit terms about credibility. A smooth cross-examination will have a flow where the narrative will emerge. Furthermore, the trier-of-fact, usually a jury but sometimes a judge, can assess the witness’ credibility. This concept has been followed for centuries in the jurisprudence of democracies. I am a proud participant.

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