Video: Maximizing Inconsistent Statements in Cross-Examination

A good prior inconsistent statement is supposed to be the “Holy Grail” of cross-examination techniques. Unfortunately, many cross-examinations fall upon deaf ears because the trial lawyer doesn’t do an effective job of building up the importance of the prior inconsistent statement. In this quick video, you’ll learn how to maximize the impeachment power of your prior inconsistent statements.

Please take a moment to leave a comment below and let me know what you think about the video. Also, please let me know what topics you’d like to learn about in future training videos, so I can help you win your next jury trial.

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32 thoughts on “Video: Maximizing Inconsistent Statements in Cross-Examination

  1. Im an Auckland lawyer and thank you so much for you on How to Impeach Witnesses with Prior Inconsistent statements video, your site is a wealth of information and I enjoy watching videos as a means of improving my litigation skills. I hope to find help on your site with examination in chief as I feel I could improve in this area too.

    So please keep up this great site because people are visiting from as far away as New Zealand 🙂

  2. I’m a pupil (trainee) barrister in England about to prepare to do a XX on a previous inconsistent statement tomorrow. I’ve got to say, this was brilliant in its simplicity and power and a great deal of help to me.
    Thank you for sharing this with everyone.

  3. I was thinking, correct me if I’m wrong. I think that even though both statements are false, the point is the plaintiff still gave inconsistant statements, proving she’s unreliable, & or a liar.
    By the way, the plaintiff will have an attorney. That’s why I’m preparing myself as best as I can.
    I’ll post a follow up on the verdict

  4. I am not an attorney, nor in the process of being one. However due to financial reasons I will be representing myself in a civil case as respondent in a stalking order. Situation is unique because I missed the initial hearing, but was allowed to have the judgement set aside for a new hearing. What if the statement on the petition is a lie & the statement during the hearing was different, but also a lie. I’m preparing for the hearing & can’t wait to hear which version will be used, could be different too. do i still lock in the prior even it’s not true. I have evidence but it’s not conclusive, on the truth. what do I do.

  5. I think those in Congress should be required to watch these videos. Some of the questions they ask during confirmation hearings fall flat. The nominee(s) have usually been coached/prepped, gone through mock hearings to get their answers down pat.

  6. Thank you so much for the free tips…it came just in time for my cross-examination. It is very clear and logical and helpful! Thank you, again, very much.

  7. I make the mistake of asking “which one is the truth” today’s or the one a year ago. It is true, asking that question takes away from the effect and it also may assist with helping jurors reconcile the facts. Thank you Elliot. This was a great video

  8. I am a serving police officer in Western Australia and serve as a prosecutor for first appearances, arrests and remands and trials of summary jurisdiction (before a Magistrate only). After only a three week course, I am in court representing the state against lawyers with University degrees and many with a lot of years experience. Unfortunately, the learning experience is by (pardon the pun) trial and error, through my mistakes. The simple but very important practicle tips that you are giving are very helpful in providing an incite into the way that defence lawyers think. These information and learning presentations are invaluable to me and I believe others also.

  9. suppose when the witness gives “today’s truth” (as in the example with the lights here) that is the answer/truth we were after and the PIS was the version that was false… a way my understanding has been that the point has been made and you move to the next question or topic in XX. But would it help to impeach the witness for a false PIS and if so how would that be best achieved… the way I am from Melbourne, Australia but the methods of trial advocacy are universal so keep them coming.

  10. Re: inconsistent statements. The lock down was well put and well received. It is a point often overlooked. Thank you. Ted

  11. Thanks. I wished I’d known this when I was a public defender. Two problems I never thought we solved in that office: 1- try as we might, we could never get enough jury panel members struck to get what we thought were fair juries- practically all the panelists hated sex offenders and would do anything they could to give them the shaft. 2- psychiatrists’ reports regularly came in to prove the doctor’s diagnosis of our client’s mental illness, that report included police and prison records with lurid details of the crime that were highly prejudicial, but neither the trial judge nor any of the first-level appellate judges would ever rule in our favor on any of this

  12. Very informative and helpful. Would like to see more cross-examination techniques in the future.

  13. I really enjoy the video commentary. Those aspiring to be trial-lawyers can learn a lot of practical stuff from you, which are never covered in the usual law books. Nothing beats experience. It is the best teacher.

  14. Just a quick thank you. I think this video was a terrific idea that helps supplement the trial advocacy materials I recently purchased from you.

    Keep up the good work.

  15. Clear and well-presented. I could have used this a few months ago before a few trials and motions. A specific one on pinning down a cop would be even more helpful for us criminal defense lawyers.

    Thank you.

  16. I have been enjoying your tips/techniques. I especially liked this expanded technique on PIS – I am a criminal defense atty and there is almost always the oppty to deal w/ PIS in cross, especially w/ LEOs whose only recollection is their written reports. This makes the locking in of depo testimony easy, but they are well coached on “wiggling” on the stand. This was a particularly helpful session. Keep them coming!

  17. I am a 20 year criminal defense attoney trying to “cross over” into personal injury. I wouldn’t mind seeing some tips on how to ask a jury for money in summation. I practice in nj where you can’t ask for a dollar amount.Also, when a witness refuses to answer your qustion and has his own agenda, how to get him to answer your question and not his own.

  18. What if the witness anticipates what’s coming (his atty coached him well) and he says that he wasn’t prepared when he made the prior statement?

  19. I liked that you mentioned the whole “were you lying then or are you lying now” issue. A lot of my associates love to bully witnesses with that, but I think it takes away from their cross in a couple of ways, first being that it can lead a jury to sympathize with a witness if the cross is unnecessarily harsh or demeaning, and second is the classic issue of “one question too many”. It has been my experience that you need to let the jury make the final leap of logic, to allow them to feel that they’ve come to the conclusion on their own, and not that you’ve led them to it. Stopping after you establish the credibility of the prior inconsistent statement without trying to pin the witness with “one question too many” allows the jury to make that final leap and you to have a field day during closing. Good stuff, Elliott.

  20. As a greenhorn in the trial arena, it feels a little presumptious for me to say this is great, but it does seem to be, and seems to me that it will be very helpful to me going forward. I plan to revisit it this evening. Mock trial video demonstrations on important, make that all, elements of the trial would also be most worthwhile.

  21. I wondering if when you commit the witness to the statement he’s just testified to and then you go thru the importance, preparation, etc… of the prior inconsis. statement – does it lose something because it starts getting too far from the original statement. It almost seems if you qualify it too much, the jury loses, or rather the impact is lost because the orig. statement was mentioned (ie. ten minutes ago). Not sure if this makes sense, but I’m trying to say that if you have too much qualifing stuff in the middle – the impact on the jury could be lost by the time you say, “isn’t it a fact you testified then, that the light was green.” Hope this makes sense. Not sure if this is a valid pt. or not.

  22. I learnt more from your newsletters and video that i feel that all my law lecturers taught me just crap and impratical stuff.
    I prefer your video as all of my family hears and relish them that it makes law interesting.
    Keep up the good work of your video teaching.

  23. I like that this has a step that I haven’t read (or remember reading) in a few other trial ad books, namely, making sure that the jury understands that the witness was prepared to make the earlier statement, and was not “ambushed.”

    Thanks for your helpful weekly advice! I just got the Complete system, and I think its excellent.

  24. Here’s my suggestion for an upcoming video: How to shorten opening statements. Jurors seem to lose interest when an opening drags on and on (and on). How can you shorten an opening statement without omitting important information?

    Thanks for the great tips in your newsletter – they’ve been invaluable in my trials!

  25. Thanks for the free courtroom presentation tips! The reminder about locking down the witness before attempting any type of impeachment is invaluable. Too bad I had to learn that lesson the hard way! 🙂

    Any chance of seeing videos about how to improve direct examination? My examinations always feel a little “dry” — I’m wondering if there’s a better way to grab the jury’s attention.