I was flipping through a book on cross-examination recently (I know, what a damned exciting life I lead) and came across this gem:

The Female Witness

There is an old view that women are impossible to cross-examine and so should be avoided. Myths have grown up over the years about the difficulty of cross-examining women and how any attempt to do so only leads to tragedy for your client’s cause.

If the witness happens to be a woman, and at the close of her testimony in-chief it seems that she will be more than a match for the cross-examiner, it often works like a charm on the jury to practise upon her what may be styled the silent cross-examination. Rise suddenly as if you intend to cross-examine. The witness will turn a determined face toward you, preparatory to demolishing you with her first answer. This is the signal for you to hesitate a moment. Look her over good naturedly as if you were in doubt whether it would be worthwhile to question her – and sit down. It can be done by a good actor in such a manner to be equivalent to saying to the jury, “what’s the use? She is only a woman.”

This passage is from a wonderful text, Cross-Examination, The Art of the Advocate, by Roger E. Salhany, A Judge of the District Court of Ontario. Date? 1988. That’s right, not 1888, 1988.

We can vote, right?? And own property, and hold down a job, etc.?? Just checking.

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