During his time as a prosecutor, Attorney Gordon Levinson had to employ high-level trial techniques to ensure that the truth was revealed to the jury during trial. While the law requires every witness to be honest when testifying, there are cases where the witness is lying (thus potentially affecting the outcome of the case). In a recent article for Trial Bar News, Gordon explains one of the ways he uses inconsistent witness testimony to the advantage of his client—in this case, the state.
In the article, he discusses a domestic violence case he tried where the victim changed his testimony to protect the perpetrator. While on the witness stand, the victim stated that his wife (the one who committed domestic violence) was perfectly peaceful on the evening she allegedly assaulted him.
What the witness may not have realized is that Attorney Levinson had the recording of the 911 call the victim made that night, as well as transcripts. Once the witness firmly committed to his testimony, Gordon asked if he remembered the call—and then played the recording once the witness said he couldn’t recall.
The Finer Points of Trial Law
Attorney Levinson understood two key things to make this moment work: how juries receive information, and how to present the key information as effectively as possible. Rather than letting the witness explain away the call, Attorney Levinson put the witness in a position where his current statements unequivocally denied his early statements.
This made the evidence admissible to the court (where witness statements made prior to the hearing are sometimes considered inadmissible as “hearsay”). Statements that are inconsistent with testimony given in court are exceptions to the hearsay rule because it indicates that the statements made in court are rehearsed (and less likely to be true).
In his column, Gordon discusses how the combination of timing and preparation can turn inconsistent witness testimony into a powerful tool, potentially impeaching both the witness and the truth of their statements. This is a vital strategy when the witness’ dishonesty could affect the client’s future—whether it’s car accident cases or criminal defense cases.
Attorney Gordon Levinson may not be a prosecutor any longer, but he employs the same strategic thinking and tactical prowess on behalf of the injured and bereaved. Learn how our Carlsbad auto accident attorney can help you protect your future today.
To read Gordon’s column in its entirety, open up the .pdf to page 19.