Crossing the Cop: Constructive and Destructive Cross-Examination in DUI Cases

Often in DUI cases, the only witness through whom the defense lawyer can tell the client’s story is the government’s witness — a law enforcement officer who arrested the client and who has been trained to testify in a way that is harmful to the client. The coordinated use of constructive and destructive cross-examination provides a framework in which the defense attorney can tell the client’s story through an adverse witness. Destructive cross-examination, the traditional approach to questioning an adversarial witness, can be utilized to attack the opposing theory or the opposing witness. The contemporary approach of constructive cross-examination, on the other hand, allows the defense to leverage the officer’s knowledge to its advantage.