Bad Habits to Avoid

AuthorJohn Hollander
bad habits to avoid
chapter three
Bad Habits to Avoid
   are good ways to ask questions, so are there
poor ways to ask questions. Good questions encourage an-
swers that advance the case, while poor questions are those
that confuse witnesses, provoke objections unintention-
ally, and generally fail to advance the case of the examiner.
Examiners confront this situation often. Both the
examiner and the opposition lawyer may ask a question
in a clumsy fashion. If the question is poorly phrased, the
most common (and eective) solution is to rephrase it. If
you are criticized by a judge or even by an opponent in
respect of an imperfect question, apologize modestly. An
apology works wonders, in most cases. No one is perfect,
so learn to recover from a mistake. To paraphrase Hip-
pocrates, do no (more) harm.
If your opponent blunders, an objection may set that
lawyer on the right path. Ask yourself how you would
respond if your opponent were to make that objection
when you blunder.
Consider what makes a question unsuitable: perhaps
it cannot be understood by the witness; it allows the wit-
ness to answer something outside the intended parameters;

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