One Question Too Many

July 10, 2012 Criminal Defense

We are all aware of the dreaded “one question too many.” It is the hubris of the trial lawyer going in for the kill and instead being killed.  We lose control and the inner Conan the Barbarian comes out to destroy the witness once and for all. It’s when we gild the lily, and unleash the coup de grace. We intellectually know we shouldn’t ask that one more question, but in the throes of the battle we just can’t help ourselves.

The legal lore is rife with examples but one more cautionary tale comes from the Jerry Sandusky trial on cross-examination of one of the victims:

Joe Amendola: “Didn’t you tell us that Jerry treated you like a son?”
Victim #4: “No, he treated me like a son in front of other people. Outside of that he treated me like his girlfriend.”

Put gun to head and pull trigger.