Direct examination is the process of an attorney questioning a witness (or you) who will be favorable to your case. This person’s testimony is included as part of your case-in-chief presented to a judge or jury.
Direct examination is the opposite of cross-examination, where your attorney asks questions of someone who may present testimony that is adverse to your case. Both your lawyer and an insurance company or other defendant’s lawyer will engage in both direct examination and cross-examination when your case goes to trial.
The Basics of Direct Examination
All courts have a set of rules and procedures for how court cases will proceed. This generally includes how witnesses will be examined and in what order — such as direct examination.
Direct examination is used to tell the judge or jury about certain aspects of your case. In your testimony for a personal injury case, for example, you will likely engage in a question and answer session with your attorney that covers things like:
- Your background, including education and family life
- Your life before the incident generally
- The facts of the incident that caused your injuries
- The medical treatment and care that you received to address your injuries
- Any property damage you experienced
- How your injuries have affected your life
- The pain and suffering you experienced
- Any conversations that you had with the defendant or anyone else about the incident
- Your damages generally
Your attorney will help you prepare for your direct examination so you can effectively present all of the information you need to tell the jury. Your direct examination is your opportunity to tell your story to the judge and jury, so it is a very important part of your legal case.
Direct Examination and the Trial Process
Direct examination is one of the first ways that you will present your case to the jury. It is just one of many pieces of evidence that a jury will review in evaluating your case. But, it can be very effective and powerful when done properly.
Questions in direct examination are usually open-ended. They should be asked in a way that does not suggest the answer to the question (sometimes referred to as “leading questions”). Cross-examination, on the other hand, is often nothing but leading questions. It is conducted by the defendant’s attorney (and your attorney will do the same thing to question the defendant’s witnesses).
Once cross-examination is complete, your lawyer will have an opportunity to ask you questions again to clarify anything that might be confusing or missed in cross-examination. This final step is called “redirect examination.” Sometimes attorneys will go back and forth in this same pattern, but that is rare, and judges will not let attorneys ask questions repeatedly.
Presenting Good Direct Examination in Your Legal Case
Attorneys are trained in conducting effective direct examination, so it’s important that you follow your lawyer’s advice to prepare for this aspect of the trial. Experience also plays a big role in good direct examination.
At John Foy & Associates, we can put our 20 years of trial experience to work for you in all aspects of your trial. The first step, however, is setting up an appointment with our team to review your legal options with you after an accident. Let us give you a FREE consultation. Call us at 404-400-4000, or fill out the form and get your FREE consultation today.