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In a trial can I examine/cross-examine witness?

Hoboken, NJ |

I know my case much better than my attorney and would like to be the one actually asking questions of the witnesses via direct and cross examination. I'm not representing myself pro se, I would like my attorney to sit at the table while I do this. Is this allowed? What is the process/approach called?

This is a civil matter in the Law Division.

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Attorney answers 4


You can inform the judge you wish to represent yourself and request your attorney to be standby counsel, but I strongly advise against it. Examinations are a process, not merely a series of questions. A trial must follow certain protocols and procedures, procedures that can damage your case if not followed properly. Your attorney has been trained and experienced in that process. I would strongly consider the implications before making such a decision. If you are able to retain new counsel, that is a much better option. Good luck.


I offer this with the caution that you are asking about a civil case in New Jersey,which is neither my field nor my state; but I would be astonished if the judge were to give you permission to do that. Remember that one of the reasons that witnesses testify in response to questions is so that the opposing attorney will have a chance to hear what each question is before it is answered so as to be able to interpose an objection. If you don't know how to ask a question properly you are not being fair to the other side. My guess is that the judge, as a matter of discretion, would deny your request and if you were to appeal that decision you would lose. But I am just thinking out loud about the problems that your question presents. What you should do is take the matter up with your own attorney. Good luck with your case.


Every case that have ever seen where a non-attorney represents themselves is a disaster. I am sure that you are more familiar with the details of the case, because you were there or knew those involved etc. However, you are not familiar with the legal system, the rules of evidence, the rules of procedure etc. I see pro se defendants attempt to cross examine a witness and every question is objected to and every objection is sustained. This is because they are unaware of the rules of procedure.

Most attorneys that are qualified do not represent themselves, because they knew if they did they would have a fool as a client.



You will not be allowed to do this. It will be much better for you to give your attorney the questions you feel are important for him to ask. You can write down new questions at trial, and have your attorney look to your questions one final time before he is done questioning.

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