This is one of those questions that lawyers debate endlessly – at least in their heads.
It’s always good to be intimidating. I find the most intimidating thing you can do is politely ask questions of the other side that they can’t answer. Like, why are you telling us this now, when you told the police officer something else.
But other lawyers like to squeeze an insult in. Maybe just to get the other guy mad, make him think about you a little more. Or maybe to scare the other guy.
I can’t say that scaring the other side doesn’t work. But it can backfire. I have seen people turn down offers just because the other lawyer proposed it. They wanted to get even, because he’d insulted them earlier in the lawsuit.
When I have to, I yell. Or act mean. But if I can find a way to accomplish the same purpose without doing that, I do. I am not good at being rude.
Part of it depends on whether you are in the presence of the guy who has the money, whether it’s a deposition, and whether you are at trial.
If I am just taking a deposition, my goal is probably to get information. It’s hard to do that by being mean. So I ask questions calmly – the other witness is more likely to make a mistake if he thinks I am not judging him.
If I am taking a deposition in front of an adjuster for the other side’s insurance company – this doesn’t happen before trial, generally – I want to make it clear that I am smart, mature (I’m 60, so that’s not that hard) but that I don’t believe what the defendant is saying and I don’t think anyone else will either.
If I am at trial, I still like the calm approach, but you’re in front of a jury, so you need to have some theater. Maybe I ask the same question two or three times, just to drive home a point.
And if I don’t like the guy I am questioning, I cannot tell you what I’ll do. But one judge who I practiced before early in my career had a nickname for me, because she thought I was so aggressive. I won’t repeat it here, even though I’m kind of proud of it.
I have been a lawyer over 30 years. I’ve taken the testimony of hundreds, maybe thousands of witnesses. If a witness can hurt you, the most important thing is to figure out how to discredit him. I think the best way to do this is by getting the witness to talk.
If you’re worried about what the truck driver might say, give me, a Cincinnati truck accident lawyer, a call. My phone is 513-621-4775.
Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed. All discussions are limited to Ohio law unless otherwise indicated. And past performance cannot be used to predict future results.