Direct examination doesn’t have the sex appeal of cross-examination or the final argument, but it is the heart of a trial. This is where the jury gets your story. The single most important rule for conducting a direct exam is Rule 401. I want to see that you understand the concept of relevancy and can effectively argue it. I suggest you intimately know the language of 401 and can express it to the court. You must aggressively use the rules of evidence to get every fact in your arsenal before the jury. You are not the judge, but an advocate, so act like one. Push the envelope. I am looking for the following:

  • How well organized, comprehensible and interesting was the testimony?
  • What method of telling the story was used? For example, it is classically done through either chronological order or subject matter order?
  • How well did the lawyer prepare the witness? Every witness must have a thorough understanding of the facts he is testifying about. This responsibility sits squarely on the shoulders of the lawyer. It is not an excuse to say the witness screwed it up!