How has TLC changed the way you prepare for a cross examination?
The TLC method doesn’t discount the amount of preparation required for a case. If I am representing a client with a medical negligence case, I still have to understand the medicine, read the literature and explore with my experts how best to communicate the medical principles. I still have to prepare, prepare, prepare. What it has helped me do is use the information mined throughout discovery and trial preparation in an effective way. Often at trial we know we are not necessarily going to get the exact answers we want to the questions put to a defense witness, but because of TLC I now know that no matter the witness’s answers, I can advance the story of my case, which was a foreign concept to me until the Trial Lawyers College. Part of our preparation for cross should include asking ourselves, “What part of my client’s story needs to be told in this cross examination”? Even if I don’t get the pristine answer that I want from a witness, I’m not afraid of asking the questions because doing a cross examination with the TLC approach ALWAYS advances my client’s story. TLC’s cross exam method is a new way, a novel way, an effective way, to continue to tell and advance your client’s story in a critical part of trial and that’s what we’ll teach in San Diego in January 2016.
When you are cross examining medical witnesses, do you ask them questions to keep it interesting for the jury?
Sometimes I don’t want the witness on cross exam to be interesting to the jury. I want me to be interesting to the jury! If it’s my witness under direct examination, my goal is a little bit different: I want all the jurors focused on my witness or my client and I want that testimony to be compelling. But in cross examination, I want the jury focused on me and my client’s story. I try to keep it interesting and brief. The beauty of the TLC cross is that it gives me a framework when I sit down to write out my cross questions for trial…..”how am I going to advance my client’s story with this witness on cross examination”? It’s not always a beautiful, lengthy, brilliant cross but it is one that enhances your case. And there is no better way to learn the TLC cross exam method than the small working groups we will have in San Diego so lawyers don’t just listen to lectures but have time to practice cross examination skills.
So is that a different approach than what is taught elsewhere?
I think it is. So often we are taught as lawyers to be relentless and aggressive on cross. The goal is how tough and harsh and brutal can you be with the adverse witness. You are taught to never ask a question you don’t know the answer to. At TLC, we teach a compassionate cross examination, a controlled cross. Lawyers who come to TLC San Diego will learn how important it is to be able to put ourselves in the witnesses shoes, see the world from their vantage point, reverse roles with the witness to explore what might motivate that witness. The TLC method is a new way to think about cross. It’s an additional tool to help us become better advocates for our clients. It’s another arrow in the quiver to help us help the folks we represent.
About Anne Valentine:
Anne graduated from the Trial Lawyers College in 1998 and has served on its board since 2010. Ms. Valentine practices in Columbus, Ohio in the areas of personal injury, insurance and medical malpractice. She has devoted her professional career to the representation of injured people and has successfully litigated many cases involving complex tort issues. Ms. Valentine is a past President of the Ohio Association for Justice (formerly Ohio Academy of Trial Lawyers) and the first woman to hold this office. Ms. Valentine’s goal as the OAJ President was to assure citizens of Ohio that their families will continue to be protected both in the workplace and in their personal lives. Ms. Valentine is frequently asked to lecture throughout the State on insurance law, evidence, trial practice and medical negligence topics. She was appointed to the board of the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation and serves her community as a volunteer with the Homeless Project and the Columbus Aids Task Force.
Join Anne and the rest of the stellar faculty at the CA Regional: Cross Examination Jan 29-31