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The Champion

November 2016 , Page 50 

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

By Matt Dodd


Trial lawyers know that every client and every case represent a new story — a new test. DUI cases present a unique situation because, often, the only witness through whom the defense lawyer can tell the client’s story is the State’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. Defense attorneys therefore need to arm themselves to tell the client’s story through this adversarial witness. The contemporary approach of constructive cross-examination, coupled with the traditional approach of destructive cross-examination, allows defense attorneys to affirmatively tell the client’s story and maintain the focus on the client’s theory of the case.

Recognizing the Complementary Approaches of Destructive and Constructive Cross-Examination

Destructive cross-examination is the traditional approach to questioning an adversarial witness, and the style with which most are familiar. Its purpose

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