The Ten Commandments of Cross-Examination Revisited: Should You Sin to Win When the Case is Criminal?

American Bar Association Criminal Justice Magazine
24 minute read | December.01.1994

Irving Younger's lecture on cross-examination, which I first heard in the mid-1970s, is like the delivery of the slightly more famous Ten Commandments by Moses at Mt. Sinai — accepted on faith and followed by nearly all. Many litigators keep their notes of that lecture close at hand and review them routinely in preparation for the cross-examination of important witnesses injury trials, mindful of Younger's promise to torment those who stray from his course before they are gray-haired with experience.

Often overlooked, however, is that Professor Younger's background was primarily in academics and in civil, as opposed to criminal, litigation. His inflexible belief that great cross-examination requires substantial talent, time, and financial resources, in addition to many years of experience, means that nearly all of us who toil in the criminal defense field are doomed to failure since, in most cases, we lack at least one of the things that Younger deemed to be so essential.