Ever since Portia challenged Shylock in the Merchant of Venice, no aspect of the law has seemed more fascinating and dramatic to non-lawyers than cross-examination, in which a skilled advocate attempts to use guile, traps, and incisive questions to undermine an opposing witness’s credibility.
Edith Marshall, a former Justice Department litigator, and Jack Marshall, a lawyer and ethicist who has produced and directed many legal dramas with climactic cross- examinations, use court transcripts, plays, and films to demonstrate and dissect epic battles of wits in actual practice and in popular culture.
Using famous cross-examinations by lawyers from Sir Thomas More to Perry Mason, Abraham Lincoln to Atticus Finch, and drawing on cases from My Cousin Vinny to the Scopes Trial, they delve into a number of questions: What are the real rules and techniques governing cross-examination? What is its purpose and limitations? What do TV and the movies get wrong—or right—in their portrayals?
Along the way, they also highlight how some elements of cross-examination can be used outside the courtroom. This legal investigation promises to be both entertaining and thought-provoking for lawyers, non-lawyers, and potential witnesses alike.