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IPSE DIXIT: Do You Really Need to Ask a Question?

April 23, 2014 By Alan R. Siciliano

After thirty-seven years I have come to the conclusion that attorneys need not feel compelled to ask questions just because they are attorneys.  Too many times after a very thorough examination of a party I have seen a young buck ask the same questions all over again because the original questions did not comport with his deposition outline.  All that is accomplished by this less than brilliant tactic is providing an opportunity for the deponent to change or fine tune the previous answers. 

Too many times have I seen attorneys cross-examine the injured party’s spouse, mother, brother or sister, after they have already testified on direct-examination to the horrors the plaintiff endured.  The result is invariably repeating and amplifying the previous testimony. 

I wonder whether the attorney engaging in these practices watched too many Perry Mason reruns.  What is this young attorney thinking?  Is it thought that the biased family member is going to collapse on the witness stand and confess to the crime? 

An attorney must learn when to ask a question, and learn when to shut up.  It will serve the attorney well!