How to Detect Non-Answers

Over the past week or so, I’ve touched on the theme of lying.  First, I posted about an interesting question raised over at the Winning Trial Advocacy Tips blog: Should A Lawyer Call a Witness a “Liar” on the Stand? Second, over at my personal blog (Random Thoughts), I posted yesterday about a link at The Art of Manliness blog titled How to Become a Human Lie Detector.

Well, today I wanted to point you to yet another great blog post over at the Winning Trial Advocacy Tips blog: How to Detect “Non-Answers” During Cross-Examination — although these principles work equally well outside the courtroom in everyday life as well.

Here are the “non-answers” as categorized and demonstrated over at the Winning Trial Advocacy Tips blog:

Non-Answer #1: Completely Avoiding the Issue

Q: Does this skirt make me look fat?
A: I love you.

Non-Answer #2: Describing Expected Procedures

Q: Did you request a CAT-scan?
A: It’s normal procedure to request a CAT-scan in those circumstances.

Non-Answer #3: Saying What You Will Do or Hope to Do

Q: How soon will you have the weaponized virus contained?
A: We’re doing everything we can.

Non-Answer #4: Answering a Question with a Question

Q: Did you lock the store before you left that evening?
A: Why wouldn’t I?

Non-Answer #5: Telling What They’d Normally Do in the Situation

Q: Did you check for tire wear patterns?
A: Normally, I would do that.

Non-Answer #6: Describing What Others Did

Q: Did you find any drugs in the car?
A: We found several packages of cocaine in the center console.
Q: No, what did you find?

Non-Answer #7: Guessing or Supposing

Q: Did you read the warning label?
A: I’m pretty sure I would have.

Non-Answer #8: The Speech or the Argument

Q: I’ll ask for the fourth time. You ordered –
A: You want answers?
Q: I think I’m entitled to them.
A: You want answers?
Q: I want the truth!
A: You can’t handle the truth! Son, we live in a world that has walls. And those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives…You don’t want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty…we use these words as the backbone to a life spent defending something. You use ‘em as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it! I’d rather you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you’re entitled to!

Non-Answer #9: Half-Truths or Half-Answers

Q: Did you have a conversation with Moff Tarkin about his plans for the Alderran System?
A: I spoke with Moff Tarkin on numerous occasions.

Q: Did you order the Code Red?
A: I did the job you sent me to do.

 

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