Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Direct Examinations Project

Brian "Kato" Kaelin testifies at the trial of O.J. Simpson
(People v. Simpson). Kaelin was famously qualified as
a "hostile witness" by prosecutor Marcia Clark because of
his rambling, incoherent responses to questions.
ARRIVAL: Find the people with the same witness. SIT WITH THEM.

You will work with a small group to put together 35-40 direct examination questions and answers for your assigned witness.

This assignment is a 50 point project grade, and will be assessed using this rubric. You will be assessed as a group, but will also receive an individual grade based on my observation of your contributions to the group.

We will start by viewing a video from the University of South Carolina showing some examples of direct examinations done by their mock trial team.

While we watch the video together, comment on this post with the following information:

  1. How do the attorneys structure their questions?
  2. Which is the best witness? Why?
When we finish with the video, you will have the remainder of the period to work on your direct examination questions. 

Before you write your questions and answers, respond to the following at the top of your page:
  1. Why should we call this witness?
  2. What theory is your side (petitioner or respondent) trying to develop?
  3. What is your theme (remember -- the tag-line)? You won't include it in your questioning, but every question should work toward the development of this theme.
  4. What is already in evidence when your witness is called to the stand? What questions can he/she expect to face based on prior testimony?
Ultimately, you will want to have one document complete with questions and answers. Each question should be followed immediately by its answer. Use the following hints to ensure your success:
  • Ensure that you have no spelling or grammar mistakes.
  • Ask the questions in a logical order.
  • When appropriate, refresh your witness' recollection by referring back to prior testimony, the dates of different events, and other items already in evidence.
  • Write complete answers for your witness. We will use the answers you write in the actual trial.
  • Make sure that your answers are in character. It is very important that our witnesses act like the people they are portraying.
  • Include specific references to the content of the witness affidavits. You cannot have the witness say anything (with very few exceptions) that is not discussed in the affidavit.


  1. Attorney's structure their questions so that, they can be answered with either a sgort answer or a longer answer with an explination. I thought tha man was a better witness.

  2. The questions are free-response in a sense, they allow the witnesses to answer them freely, and almost unrestrained.

    The second witness provides more infomation and is much more serious, making his testimony better overall.

  3. 1. The attorneys structure their questions by asking the witnesses about their basic backgrounds: what their names are, how old they are, what schools they attended, ect. Then, the questions gradually get to the case, asking about things that are relevant to the case.

    2. I think Matt Kneece was the best witness because he seemed very calm and it seemed like he really knew what he was talking about. Amanda seemed as if she was a little too much into her character. Matt's character seemed very well- played.

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  5. 1. The attorney asks questions that allow details rather than yes or no response. Also, the attorney asks questions that will lead into the next question.
    2. The second witness was the best in my opinion because he gave details, emphasized on main points, and answered the questions completlety that the attorney asked.
    Haven C.

  6. 1. The attorney's structure their questions in a non-leading way. The attorney also asked questions that would cause the witness to give a direct answer that would be lengthy and detailed. The attoneys asked questions that were beneficiary to the case. All of the questions had foundations behind them.
    2. The best witness, in my opinion, was the second witness because he seemed to be more calm and believeable. The first witness seemed to have a 'motive' and seemed as though her quirkyness was forced for a reason.
    -Kevin Price

  7. The attorney asks the questions in a way to allow the witness to tell their story. They are not leading and they cover the story in it entirety. Also, she followed the correct rules. I think that the girl was the better witness. Shang S.

  8. 1. The attorneys structure their questions in a way that allows both witnesses to provided explaination to each response, so that each question doesn't appear to be leading.
    2. I believe Matt Kneece was the best witness, he seemed really into his character and I could barely tell that he was actually acting. His responses were sincere.

  9. 1. The attorney question the witness in a very relaxed manner, as if the two are only having a conversation. The questions and answers flow together to create a story plot, without leaving out important information. The attorney asks "why" continuously, and asks direct question.

    2. I believe that Jan was the best witness, because she was very personable and did not go on and on, like the second witness. She stated concise answers and allowed the attorney to direct her responses. The jury would probably believe Jan, because she is acting like her self and seems less likely to lie due to her realness.

  10. Toni Cook
    1. The attorneys structured their questions by asking easy, straight forward question, and then lead to the main point of the case.
    2. The girl was the best witness to me because of her energy, and the guy witness was talking about cars. I was not sure what that had to do with the case. The girl played her role well, and had a good personality.

  11. NaQima F.
    1. The attourney structured their questions as if they were reading a dialog. They were already fully thought out and she never had to stop and think about what she was going to ask next. Also, the tone was relaxed and conversational.
    2. I think the first witness was better because she had a brighter personality, which made her seem innocent and truthful, like she has nothing to lie about.

  12. Kentrell Brown
    1. The attorney structures the questions in a way where the witness can give a clear and elaborate answer. The questions also logically lead into one another. The questions are also short and to the point.
    2. The best witness is the second guy because he plays the car dealer role very well, and gives clear and detailed answers to the questions. The other girl just seemed like she was trying too hard.

  13. The questions are being asked are causing answers that are going more into a narrative. Most of the questions don't relate and this can cause many objections.
    Although the man is giving specific details,he is telling an entire story he is a better witness who showed more knowledge of the entire case. Not only was descriptive, he also had court etiquettes, unlike the silly woman.

  14. 1. The attorneys structure the questions in a way where the witness would want to elaborate on his/her answer. The attorneys use a lot of questions that begin with how and what. Her questions naturally flow.
    2. I believe that the woman is the silliest witness because she acts very goofy while talking. It seems almost immature. The male witness seems serious and straight forward. I think the male is a better witness for a real trial because it seems like he would act more appropriate in a real courtroom. The girl seems more like an actor or like an adult who acts like a child. She would be better if it was for fun.