Killer Cross Examination is brought to you by Neil Rockind, a veteran and award-winning criminal defense lawyer. Rockind shares his insight into what he terms “killer cross examination” through his weekly podcast and blog entries. As a former assistant prosecuting attorney and radio talk show host, Rockind believes that killer cross examination is the key to winning any case: using cross examination in way that highlights the issues and defenses that you are advocating while undermining the foundation for the government’s case.
Exposing the Breath Alcohol Program - Part 3
The Breath Alcohol Testing Program has been under attack. For weeks, I’ve been exposing the breath test program for the sham that it is. In Episode 21, I really take apart the program for its lack of transparency and how the program has been set up to insulate the program, the units, the operators the technicians from full confrontation and cross examination. Our cross examination in this case has opened a lot of eyes but it’s just one case. In this episode I pull no punches. The logs, the record keeping, the Sgt. Schultz - mentality of the daily operators and the protection given to the program are as Un-American as can be and its about time someone points this out and that someone is me.
Exposing the Breath Alcohol Program - Part 2
In Episode 19, we discussed a portion of our cross examination of the Michigan State Police Technical Leader/Toxicologist and what we uncovered and revealed during that hearing. In Episode 20, we explore even more of our killer cross examination of this expert witness. While the state and the MSP was sending these technicians out to testify and consult with the various police departments, the leaders of the program were discussing privately what they truly thought of the technicians. These technicians given the highest level of classification as a Datamaster Operator, it was represented both expressly and impliedly that they were competent, prepared and capable. Yet, the leaders of the program knew better. Want until you hear what they said about these technicians behind their backs and among themselves. Talk about talking behind someone’s back — what’s worse is that they misrepresented what they knew and thought about them. Episode 20 is our next installment of this series.
Exposing the Breath Alcohol Program - Part 1
In January, 2020, the Michigan State Police Breath Alcohol Program, responsible for overseeing the "breathalyzer" program in Michigan was rocked by scandal. At first, MSP fired the company servicing the machines. But that was only the tip of the iceberg. Soon allegations of fraud and misrepresentation were levied against technicians who worked side by side with the MSP in servicing and maintaining the machines. Soon after Rockind Law began a search for evidence of the real story - the truth behind the scandal. We obtained thousands of pages of reports, documents, etc. Some were obtained under a protective order. Others obtained through FOIA. Despite the fraud, prosecutors pushed forward trying to "get around" the issues of fraud and misrepresentation. Key to the prosecution's efforts to salvage the cases and the breath test program was a figure, a toxicologist who was the technical leader of the program. They planned on him being their savior.
For months, I've been preparing to cross examination this expert with the intention to reveal the truth, to shine a light in the dark corners of the breath alcohol program, to expose them. The cross examination, watched and followed by many, is now in Part/Phase 3. I write about some of the revelations that have come out so far. This will blow your mind.
The breathalyzers and the technicians, long touted as seemingly perfect and beyond question, were far from it. The cross examination revealed that the leaders had their own opinions and conversations about the technicians, the quality of their work, the machines, etc., none of which was shared with the public. Some machines were referred to as "repeat offenders", the "instrument from hell", on a top 25 bad machine list and even a POS. When questioned, the MSP expert said that he believed that POS stood for "Point of Sale."
Tune in and listen to the first installment of this killer cross examination on the subject of the breath test program and the MSP expert.
Please be aware we are relying on impressions, recollections, memories and interpretations.
(March 15, 1933 – September 18, 2020)
A tribute to Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Gilding the Lily
The phrase, gilding the lily, comes from a Shakespeare play, King John. The line in the play is actually, "to paint the lily." The quotation reads, in part, "To gild refined gold, to paint the lily / To throw a perfume on the violet. . .. / Is wasteful and ridiculous excess."
What it means is simple: when you already have something beautiful, e.g., a lily, gold, a violet, don't attempt to make it more beautiful. All you do is risk ruining it. For a cross examiner, this is a golden rule - DON'T GILD THE LILY. In other words, once you've gotten the answer that you wanted or a good answer, leave it alone, don't attempt to make it better because you really just risk making it worse or ruining it. How? For example, you've gotten the witness the admit to describe the room in which he says a crime occurred that he personally observed incorrectly. Leave it alone. Instead, so many questioners in search of the "dunk" or in an effort to "make the point even clearer" ask further questions and clue the witness in that he made a mistake. For example, rather than leaving the wrong description alone, the lawyer follows up with more:
Q: Now, you've described a room with a single bed right?
A: I believe so.
Q: You mean a narrow bed as opposed to a queen or a king, right? (now the witness is clued in because the lawyer is going back and trying to make this point again. Realizing that he made a mistake, he backtracks on the lawyer)
A: Well, it might've been a queen or king size bed. I wasn't really paying attention that closely at that point because I was so startled by what I saw.
The lawyer has gilded the lily. Rather than leave the answer alone, he tried to improve on it with more follow up only to ruin it. In Episode 17, I explore this phenomenon and encourage you all to stop, respect the good answer and don't gild the lily to make it better.
Science. Complex, costly, imperfect and time consuming. That’s the way science has been, is and always will be. Unless of course, it is the “science” of the law enforcement and the criminal justice system. The complex and imperfect sciences that we are familiar with become, in the legal system, perfect, beyond question, fast and I expensive. Why? Because the legal system needs certainty and expediency, not costly and uncertain. Uncertainty means doubt and that means reasonable doubt. In Episode 16, I begin to touch on how the legal system has converted science, kidnapped it and made it into something it is not - beyond question. Maybe, as I point out, if we treated science with more respect and awe, we’d treat those in the system with more respect and awe themselves.
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A Real Trial Lawyer Experience
Great content each and every episode. Thank you for providing your insight and knowledge into some very important topics.
This podcast is inspirational and enlightening. It makes me rethink my how I cross-examine and motivates me to grow and get better!
Listening to Neil is a privilege. This man goes above and beyond for his clients. It is obvious what his passion is; looking out for the best interest of his clients and going the extra mile. Well Done Neil and Well spoken.