I know this column is called Lis and the Single Girl — but I am lucky enough to have many male readers who have proven to be a great source of advice and audience.
However, this week, I’m writing this series specifically for the ladies — so men, please no complaints, I am giving you fair warning that I am dedicating these columns to my fellow female friends. The reason? I’ve been flooded with e-mails from women who fear their beloved is cheating. I’ve done the research and have several tips to offer on how to “cross-examine” and get down and dirty with the truth. There are “10 Commandments” to follow, so I’ll explain two every day followed by some commentary. My goal: by the end of this “crash course,” you’ll be more equipped to handle some of the trials of your life.
Once upon a time, your heart was at ease, knowing that your honey was coming home to you and only you. He made it clear that you were top priority. That means if he said he’d come home straight from work, he’d be there on time. If he said he’d pick you up at 8:00, he’d be there at 7:45. And, the big one, if he said he was out with the guys, you knew he was out with the guys. Now, you’re not so sure. He fails to answer the phone — caller ID at fault? His whereabouts are more nondescript, and suddenly he’s working into the wee hours of the morning.
Here’s my crash course in cross-examination to determine what’s really going on. Maybe he is really working late, but it’s time to find out.
First of all, cross-examining is a skill that any trial lawyer spends years honing. It requires confidence and an artful way of leading the witness to answer your questions truthfully, but without evading the real question. It also involves the ability to know when to quit.
The First Commandment: Thou Shall Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
• The secret to any good trial or case is preparation, as a jury will assess your depth of knowledge and commitment to the case. Your ability to handle the cross-examination is paramount. That means you must be able to pinpoint why you believe he’s cheating.
• Think about what kind of facts you would find. Aim your discovery at pulling together any and all pieces of “evidence” that can bolster your case. If you live together, does your phone bill look larger than usual or is he ignoring his cell phone a little more often in your presence? Are you noticing matches from strange bars?
• Additionally, you want to think about motive. Does the “witness” in your case have a disposition or reason to skew the evidence and delivery false testimony?
• After you’ve found all your evidence, you’re ready to organize how you want to present it. As you move forward, you need to formulate the theory of your case.
The Second Commandment: Know Thy Goal and Objective
• The key to a successful trial: Know the theory of your case — what is the final verdict you want? At the end of the day, is your goal to find out only if he’s been messing around or are you questioning your own happiness as well? Or, do you just feel like he hasn’t been around as much and you miss him?
• The first few seconds of a cross-examination can make or break its effectiveness. Be decisive. Stick to your points and make them resolute, keeping your theory as subtext to the question you pose. (Isn’t it true you told me you’d stop hanging out with the boys as much?” Subtext: Is there someone else or I want to spend more time with you.)
• Before we move on to the Third Commandment tomorrow, I want to leave you with some sage words of advice a former colleague told me. Tread lightly. Remember, cross-examination involves asking questions to get your “witness” to say what you want and in a courtroom, the witness is not free to say what they want. This is not a technique that engenders warm and fuzzy feelings and the best trial lawyers use it in a very responsible way. Bullying a witness usually gets you nowhere and is reserved for the rarest of situations.
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Lis Wiehl joined FOX News Channel as a legal analyst in October 2001. She is currently a professor of law at the New York Law School. Wiehl received her undergraduate degree from Barnard College in 1983 and received her Master of Arts in Literature from the University of Queensland in 1985.In addition, she earned her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1987.
Lis is also the author of The 51% Minority — How Women Still Are Not Equal and What You Can Do About It . ( Watch the Video ) and Winning Every Time: How to Use the Skills of a Lawyer in the Trials of Your Life
To read the rest of Lis's bio, click here.