How to Prepare for Trial: Redirect Examination

Now that the opposing counsel has finished the cross examination of your witness, you have the opportunity to address the witness again in the redirect. Despite the name of this trial procedure, the rules governing redirect are more similar to those governing the cross-examination. Here, the advocate is allowed to use leading questions to explore subjects that are “reasonably related” to the scope of the cross. The reason leading questions are permitted is that the advocate must focus on the part of the testimony that was damaged during cross. A skilled advocate will be able to fix some of the damage by focusing on one or two important points.

Often, the critical objective in the redirect is to address those questions that opposing counsel purposefully left out. For example, if the cross revealed that the plaintiff waited until morning to go to the doctor after the car accident despite claims of serious injuries, the advocate on redirect would make sure that the plaintiff testified to the fact that he did eventually go to the doctor the next day and inquire as to a plausible explanation for the delay.

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The redirect can also be used to expressly rehabilitate the witness with the use of a prior consistent statement. Here the advocate will bring up a statement made in the deposition, police records or other admissible testimonial documents, and attempt to reconcile that prior statement with what the witness has revealed during the cross. Using our previous example, if it was suggested that the plaintiff was not in serious pain because of the delay in going to the hospital, the advocate could bring up on redirect the fact that the plaintiff had mentioned his total state of shock in the hospital report.

The trickiest part about the redirect is that it is largely dependent on what the cross-examination reveals. Therefore, it cannot be entirely planned. Keep in mind also that the right to redirect can be waived. If it does not contribute to the theory of the case in any real way, do not pursue it.

It’s in your best interest to be in the habit of strategizing your redirect during the course of the cross examination. Number each argument raised by opposing counsel that you would like to refute or counter. If there are many, it may be in your best interest to only focus on the ones most relevant to the case and your theory. If you bring up too many issues during redirect, your more important arguments may get lost in translation.

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Preston Clark is a licensed attorney and entrepreneur based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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