When is the “Truth” Wrong?

When is the truth wrong? This issue comes up often during the course of a trial. A witness testifies to a fact which is contrary to your side of the case, or it contradicts other evidence. A question arises, is the witness being truthful? Why is he “lying”?

The more important question to ask is: Why is the witness being inaccurate? This is the issue which needs to be addressed by the attorney. In other words, why did the witness testify mistakenly? Was it bias? Distraction? A limited opportunity to observe? Does he lack the expertise and training to make an accurate observation? Did he feel pressure to help the authorities? Were his senses impaired? Was it simply an honest mistake?


Often times it’s not necessary to destroy a witness or make him out to be a liar. You simply need to point out his limitations as an observer and imply his point of view is incorrect. One of my favorite quotes point this out:

“We see that as we are, not as they are.”

Keep this thought in mind the next time you rise to cross-examine an adverse witness. They could be telling the “truth” from their point of view and be “sincerely wrong”.
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Posted on August 31, 2011, in cross-examination, Trial Advocacy and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Great advice. Thanks for sharing it!

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