As you may recall, Addie has a habit of using lawyer-like tactics while arguing with me. Last night, Addie got owned by her mother who used a lawyerly tactic, and Addie didn’t even see it coming. It was a thing of beauty. When someone gets owned in a lawyer’s world, it is called being “lawyer’d.” And yes, that term was stolen from CBS’s How I Met Your Mother, and it seems to have become a term of art used by lots of people — similar to “owned.”
One thing litigation lawyers learn quickly is that the cross examination of a witness doesn’t come easy like it appears to come on television. [Side rant — lawyers aren’t free to make political speeches or philosophical pleas while questioning a witness — I’m talking to you, Harry’s Law.] There are so many things that lawyers have to pay attention to during trial. Is the question allowable under the Rules of Evidence? Has the question been condensed to one fact per question? Do I already know the answer to the question? Have I pulled enough information from the witness on this subject to move on? Is the question a yes or no question? And on and on and on it goes.
While speaking with a retired lawyer at a trial practice clinic, I asked, “How did you get to the point where the questions just flowed naturally as you conducted the examination?” He answered, “I practice on my family.” He was dead serious. This guy regularly practiced the art of cross-examination on his wife. That’s how difficult it can be to conduct a proper cross-examination — it was difficult enough for him that he took the risk of angering his wife on a daily basis in order to practice his craft.
Needless to say, when I hear a good cross-examination, I have to honor the performance. One thing I also must explain, is that lawyers are told to act like surgeons on cross-examination. Get in, make a precise cut here, a precise cut there, and get out before making the wrong cut and doing damage to your case. And that’s exactly what my wife did to Addie.
We were all sitting around the table and we had all finished our meals except for my oldest daughter. Addie was still working on a full bowl of broccoli that she hadn’t bothered to touch. My wife began clearing the table, which seemed like a natural thing to do at the time. None of us had any idea it was merely a distraction. My wife reached over Addie to pick up the last glass from the table and she quietly said to Addie, “What kind of cupcake do you want?” Addie responded, “A chocolate one.” Then my wife said, “You have room for cupcakes, you have room for broccoli.” And boom goes the dynamite. Nobody saw that coming.
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