Author Archives: Roy Black

The Slippery Slope of Waiving Rights

I read in the New York Times that Eli Cherkasky, an assistant district attorney in the Manhattan DA public corruption unit, was adjudged guilty of third-degree assault, criminal obstruction of breathing and second-degree harassment, all misdemeanors. He had a fight with a woman during a drunken argument at a bar on Halloween night in 2014. He waived his right to a jury trial.

Cross: The deadly “Why”

“Cross-examination is the greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth. You can do anything with a bayonet except sit on it. A lawyer can do anything with cross-examination if he is skillful enough not the impale his own cause upon it.” – JOHN HENRY WIGMORE It is hard to explain the principles […]

Vincent Bugliosi: The Legacy

Vince Bugliosi, who first achieved fame as the Manson Family prosecutor and then as a first rate author, died June 6, 2015. His true legacy is the books he left behind. Too obsessive and detailed for the casual reader but perfect for us. The Lee Bailey, Gerry Spence and Bugliosi trial-centric books are major sources […]

Cross-examination Preparation

No matter the system of justice, an advocate is only as good as his preparation — especially when it comes to cross-examination. I follow a good cross-examination no matter where it occurs. I enjoyed dissecting the over-the-top Gerry Nel cross-examination of Oscar Pistorius in his notorious South African murder trial. Now comes another international trial, […]

Law Without Walls

I was invited by Michelle DeStefano, through Georgie Angones (Ms. Everything-at-the-school), to participate in the strangely worded “ConPosium” which is the final stage of the Law Without Walls competition. I walked into the Newman Alumni Center at 8 am on a Sunday, not knowing quite what to expect, and I was surprised by the room. […]

“How can you represent those people?”

The classic crack made at many a cocktail party. Every defense lawyer suffers through the ordeal of offering a dissatisfying response (at least to the tormentor) to this barely concealed insult. I have no intention of dragging out the usual suspects, but rather I want, for a change, to ask the question myself. Not for […]

Clarence Darrow: American Iconoclast

“What am I on trial for, gentlemen of the jury? . . . I am not on trial for having sought to bribe a man named Lockwood. . . . I am on trial because I have been a lover of the poor, a friend of the oppressed, because I have stood by labor for all these years, and have brought down on my head the wrath of the criminal interests in this country. Whether guilty or innocent of the crime charged in the indictment, that is the reason I am here, and that is the reason that I have been pursued by as cruel a gang as ever followed a man.”
Clarence Darrow’s closing argument in his first Los Angeles bribery trial, August 14, 1912

Failure is an Option

Some days cross-examination doesn’t work. No matter how well planned, no matter how well the strategy executed, nor how tight the questions, the witness beats us. One particularly insidious type is the witness with an agenda. They won’t follow the rules and simply answer the question. They volunteer their personal agenda whenever possible. It is […]

F. Lee Bailey

Representing the damned is damn hard enough, but then this life rewards you with a swift uppercut to the stomach. This is one reason why I am an existentialist. The most depressing legal ruling of 2014 (and the list is long) proves this point. The Maine Supreme Court issued a 59 page screed denying Lee Bailey’s re-admission to the bar, this is on the scale of throwing LeBron out of the NBA. Unless a deus ex machina miraculously descends his legendary career as a trial lawyer is over

FIU Cross-Examination Seminar

On Friday, December 12, 2014, I will be teaching a seminar on cross-examination at the FIU Law School. The seminar has been organized by H.T. Smith and Scott Fingerhut. I have attached the materials I drafted for the seminar.