In my pretrial class today we questioned mock adverse witnesses. Adverse witnesses are esentially people who don’t like your or your client (or who are not “on your side,”) but whose testimony you think will support your case- kind of like cross examination, except you chose to have these people take the stand.

It was a valuable class. I learned, for example, that if I can at all avoid it, I will NEVER CALL AND ADVERSE WITNESS. EVER.

Our helpful “pretrial” textbook has examples of sample “adverse witness questioning” that look something like this:

Attorney: You are a police officer.
Adverse Witness: Yes
Att: You have been trained in the proper use of a firearm.
AW: Yes
Att: The police department conducts retrainings on proper use of a firearm twice a year, is that correct?
AW: Yes
Att: So you were retrained in the proper use of a firearm no more than six months before the incident, is that correct?
AW: Yes.
Att: So, when you said in your April 18 deposition that you had not been trained in the proper use of a firearm for “at least a couple of years,” you were lying?
AW: Yes

Then the gallery spontaneously breaks into applause, the judge decides that the case is over now thanks to the devastating testimony obtained by the amazingly skilled questioning, and Perry Mason stands up and takes a bow.

Or not. Questioning for me went something like this:

Pseudostoops: You were driving home when the incident occured, correct?
Adverse witness: What do you mean “driving home?” I was in my car, but I wasn’t, like, fixated on getting home as quicky as possible or anything. And there wasn’t any incident.
PS: Okay….. You were driving immediately before you sustained the injury you allege in your complaint.
AW: Complaint? I just know that I got shot! Your client shot me! You bet I got complaints!
PS: Well, okay, but when you first encountered my client, you were driving in a car, correct?
AW: I was just driving home, minding my own business, when your client starts driving like a freaking psycho, swerving, and swearing at me, and calling me a dirty Polack, and then he kicks me in the groin and shoots me for no reason and I didn’t hear him say police or nothing and now I can’t work and my seven children and me are living out on the street.
PS: A simple “yes or no,” will suffice here, sir.
Opposing counsel: Objection! Counsel is badgering the witness!
Judge: Sustained.

Right! Lesson learned! Friendly witnesses only from here on out!