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MacCarthy on Cross Examination

26 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1590318867
ISBN-10: 1590318862
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About the Author

Terence F. MacCarthy, Esquire graduated at the top of his class from St. Joseph's College in 1955. After serving as a Lieutenant in the Marines, he attended law school at DePaul, graduating again in the top ten percent of his class in 1960. Since 1966, he has been the Executive Director of the Federal Defender Programme in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. He was selected for the position by the judges of the District Court and the deans of the six Chicago law schools.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 218 pages
  • Publisher: American Bar Association (November 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590318862
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590318867
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.5 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #219,307 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By David K. Bissinger on December 27, 2008
Format: Paperback
Every lawyer interested in cross examination should have this spiffy and funny little book. Don't worry about the price; like Berg's and Tigar's books, MacCarthy's is worth every penny, particularly in light of the appalling lack of readable trial advocacy books available. For example, do not make the mistake of buying Wellman's "The Art of Cross Examination" as a cheap substitute for these pricier alternatives. MacCarthy is a joy to read, with lively and relevant examples; Wellman is almost unbearable and useful mostly as an historical document.

MacCarthy takes away the mystery of cross examination by showing how lawyers should trim their leading questions declarative statements, similar to propositions in a true-or-false test from middle school.

MacCarthy also debunks the myth of the genius cross-examiner who dazzles the jury with no apparent preparation. For most of us, cross examination takes hard work and careful planning, although we can still have fun doing it.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Mark Langley on August 19, 2008
Format: Paperback
Terry MacCarthy, affable 40 year federal public defender from Chicago, is the primary source for the new-school of cross-examination, having apparently trained Larry S. Pozner and Roger Dodd, whose books are now in the second edition. For my money I prefer MacCarthy's shorter volume -- get to the point faster, focus on the technique, and get back to work. There are complete examples (taken from actual trials) and direct instruction.

MacCarthy is simpler (than P&D) and gets you to the same point. In fact, I think his "transitions" approach is more versatile than P & D's "chapter" method, because while chapters are helpful if everything is going to plan, when something comes up in an adverse witness testimony (either good or bad), transitions can help you create an ad hoc chapter to address the exigency.

While I don't agree with the author that cross examination can be made completely into a science, having a set of tools that systematically give the narrative story-telling effect of direct examination to a cross-examiner takes a huge step (way beyond traditional cross examination techniques) toward realizing the constitutional promise of a fair trial.

The law-enforcement eponymous first reviewer simply misses the point, and has likely been on the other end of the courtroom experience. This system is more than use "short, yes/no questions." The new-school of cross-examination rejects the traditional "minimize damage and discredit" goals of the classical approach, for actually telling a story on cross to affirmatively make case. While once contrarian, the new approach is widely embraced by academic and practitioner alike, as seen by the adoption of this by both NITA and the ABA who publish the present book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By zendawg on January 24, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been a lawyer for over 30 years, and done the usual circuit - NITA, a short Jerry Spence course, the excellent Texas Crim. Defense Lawyers trial college, and lots of other courses. I learned from all of them. I was fortunate to stumble across Mr. MacCarthy's book about a year ago. I had my first opportunity to apply its lessons in a criminal trial this week. Instead of the usual approach to cross, trying to pin the witnesses down, catch them in lies and embarrass them, have a running battle and so on, I used MacCarthy's method. First, I had a coherent story and theme that I hammered from voir dire through closing. Then, all my questions related to that theme. Third, I didn't really ask questions - I made statements, that generally elicited a one word answer, usually "yes." One witness, who claimed my client threatened him with a large knife, was an ex-con, who objected to how I was not asking questions but making statements. So, I just made the same statement and added one word, "right?" He got so mad that he had a melt down, then tried to stare me down with the evil eye, which in closing I told the jury he learned in prison.
Long story short - my client was looking at a potential life sentence. After the jury had been out over 3 hours, the DA offered a plea deal - 3 yrs deferred adjudication. I believe using MacCarthy's techniques achieved one of his primary goals - for the lawyer to "look good." And the witnesses to "look bad."
The only reason I'm not giving this book five stars is that I hate the metaphor that the author uses of "punishing the puppy," hitting it on the nose with a rolled up newspaper. I'm a dog lover and I cringe every time I read that. I hope in future editions he'll come up with another metaphor.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Alejo678 on March 7, 2015
Format: Paperback
If you are going to buy one book on cross examination, this is the one. It's far more concise than Pozner and Dodd's tome, uses largely the same approach, and won't break your bank account.

MacCarthy advocates not asking "questions," but instead using short statements, one fact at a time to give you control of the witness and then making those statements into a story you tell the jury about your case. Every cross examiner worries about losing control of witnesses on the stand, but MacCarthy sets you at ease by giving you an easy way to do it (short, statements) and letting you in on a little secret-- namely, that, under this approach, the cross examiner actually wants witnesses to fight him for control. According to MacCarthy, when a witness gets evasive about answering a short, simple, single fact "question," the witness ends up looking bad for not answering the question. MacCarthy recommends ways of dealing with this that draw the jury's attention to the witnesses bad and unreasonable behavior. The approach is exceedingly simple to use once you've tried it in court a few times, and, while it won't turn you into F. Lee Bailey, it will make you a good, competent cross examiner.

It's worth noting that most of the material in the book is available on YouTube as a seven part lecture MacCarthy gave at Stetson Law School. I recommend watching the videos if you have the time (each part is at least an hour). MacCarthy is a great, albeit loquacious, teacher and raconteur, and you can only benefit from watching him demonstrate his techniques. I would still recommend buying the book, however, since it is always nice to have something you can refer to in your hands with an index, et cetera.
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