Typical Cross Examination Questions
In the Cross Examination section it was pointed out that the most important factor to a successful cross exam is to concentrate on as many of the minor details as possible. This section will take the questioning for the radar portion of a cross examination and disect it so that it will be easier to follow. All of the questions may not apply to your particular case. Just use these questions as a guideline for your own particular direction and not as a script for use in the courtroom. You will also need to analyze the judge's feelings as far as your line of questioning is concerned. Since you are defending yourself, it is likely you will not be granted as much freedom during the cross examination. Maintain a steady and rational pace and you should keep the judge satisfied.
The following line of questioning has been derived from the "Attorney's Deposition Guide" which is available from the National Motorists Association.
Introductory Questions: These questions are designed to establish the relevant facts in the case and to create a friendly atmosphere with the ticketing officer.
1. What type of radar were you using when the ticket was issued?
Do not accept an answer like "Doppler Radar" or "Moving Radar"
2. Please tell us the facts of the ticket as you recall them?
Remember your grounds for objections concerning the officer reading directly from the citation.
3. Was your audio Doppler working properly at the time the citation was issued?
If the officer claims he that doesn't know what audio Doppler is, remember this response when you get to the question section on audio Doppler.
4. What was the speed that your audio warning was set on?
If the officer claims not to know what audio warning is, remember this response when you get to the question section on audio alarm.
5. Was your automatic speed lock working?
This response is crucial. If yes, you have started building your case for operational error. If no, don 't worry, there will be a lot more opportunities.
6. Were you using a manual on-off switch or other radar defeating mechanism in association with your radar unit?
7. Were you moving or were you stationary when your radar unit's alert went off?
8. Was the target vehicle coming towards you or was it moving away from you?
9. Did you see the target vehicle proceeding the time your radar unit's audio alarm went off?
This is another crucial answer. You have essentially asked the officer if he took a traffic history before issuing the citation. If he indicates that he did see you, ask the next three questions. If he did not see you, stop your preliminary questions here.
10. Were you able to determine the target vehicle's speed from a visual observation?
11. What was the apparent speed of the target vehicle?
12. About how many seconds elapsed between the time you first observed the target vehicle and the time your audio alarm went off?
Establish the officer's qualifications: these questions are directed towards the officer's training on the operation of the radar unit. Keep in mind the national standard of 24 hours of classroom time followed by 16 hours of field training.
1. How many years have you been a police officer?
2. How long have you operated radar units?
This, and question 2 are set up questions
3. Have you received formal instruction and training in the operation of radar?
If he says no, contain your smile with your best poker face!
4. Under what scenario did you receive your training?
This could have a variety of responses. It will be like a home run for you if the training he received was from another officer in his own department.
5. How many hours of classroom instruction did you receive?
Again, the reply here will be crucial. Generally, no officer has 14 hours of classroom. Remember Kentucky v. Honeycutt is going to be used by the prosecution to justify the officer having less than the 24 hours. If the officer has less than three or four hours he is probably not qualified. This will become excrutiatingly obvious to the officer as you continue you line of questioning.
6. How long ago was it that you received this training?
If it was several years ago it could indicate that he is not current in the proper operation of the specific unit. It could also indicate that he was trained on a different unit than was used for the citation.
7. How many officers took this training with you?
If it was an extremely large class, try to downgrade his level of training by asking additional questions such as: Was the training a lecture? Were you seated auditorium style? Where were you seated? Did you have any other classes that day? Were questions allowed? Did you ask any questions? If the officer cannot recall the particulars of his radar training class, ask how can he remember the subject taught?
8. Who taught the classroom portion of the radar course?
If it was another officer, question that officer's training credentials and ask for the trainer's certification. If it was the manufacturer, you have a potentially biased source of training.
9. Since your initial training, have you had any additional radar course work?
He likely has not. If he has, find out the circumstances just the same as you questioned for the initial classroom training.
10. How many hours of one-on-one field training with a professional instructor have you had in the operation of radar units?
If he rode along with another officer, ask again for that officer's training credentials. If it was a factory representative, it was likely to be for thirty minutes or less with multiple officers in the car at the time. Keep pressing for an accurate answer.
11. Do you believe yourself to be a competent radar operator?
What else can he say except yes?
12. Do you hold a certification in the use of radar?
Not likely but it really doesn't matter either way.
13. When was your initial training in the use of the (fill in the actual unit used)?
If he hasn't received specific training in the actual unit, remember your need for a poker face.
14. Did your training include the use of other radar units?
The goal is to subdivide his training and show that he has had little or no training in the specific radar used in our case.
Establish the officer's trust in the radar unit: This is a faith check for the officer. The chances are he isn't aware that you know some of the downfalls of the particular unit involved in your case.
1. Do you believe the (fill in actual unit used) to be a good radar unit?
What do you think the answer will be?
2. Have you encountered any problems with the unit?
Not likely, but if so, get the specifics.
3. Are you permanently assigned to one specific radar unit?
As nefore thjs is, not likely since most departments move units around.
4. Do you feel there are specific contrasts between radar units of the same model? Will one unit have an idiosyncrasy that another might not have?
Likely answer is they all work alike. If he has noticed differences, get the specifics.
5. Do you believe that the actual unit used gives deceptive or false readings?
This question is crucial. If he says no, you can catch him out with the manufacturer's documentation (remember your subpoena). He will more than likely reply saying heís never seen a false reading. If so, skip the next question.
6. About what percentage of the time does your radar unit give these false readings?
Make a note of his answer.
7. Do you believe that you can always tell when the unit is giving a false reading?
He will likely say that he can always tell, which sets up your upcoming reasonable doubt argument later in your presentation.
8. Is there a special number or symbol that appears on the readout to indicate a false reading?
No, obvously there isnít.
9. Does the unit give some sort of visual sign that the reading is questionable?
No it does not.
10. How, then, can you tell that the reading you are getting isnít a false one?
He will likely say that there is no target in sight or the target is clearly not speeding. If he says that false readings only occur when there is no target present, then that is essentially the same as saying that the unit never gives false readings. If he says that he can always tell that the target vehicle isn't doing the speed indicated, end this piece with the remaining series of inquiries.
11. Since there is no particular hint of a false reading, does that mean that all 82 mph readings aren't false?
No, of course not.
12. So the false reading could be 20 mph or 70 mph?
It certainly can be. If he says anything other than yes he is either trying to evade the questions or technologically incompetent.
13. The radar could give a reading of say 70 mph, but you could clearly see, for example, that the target vehicle was only going 30 mph?
He will probably concur with this question.
14. What if the speed limit is 55 mph, and the same 70 mph false reading shows up. Is that possible?
He should say that this could happen. You should use the speed limit of your particular case in all questions.
15. Presuming the car approaching is going 55 mph, could you recognize that the radar is malfunctioning?
If the answer is yes, press on with the remaining questions. If he says no then end this section with this question.
16. If an approaching car is traveling at 55 mph and the radar gives a false reading
of 56, could you recognize this?
Not on his best day.
17. If an approaching car is traveling at 55 mph and the radar gives a false reading of 57, could you recognize that?
Keep going until he commits to a specific speed he could recognize or until it becomes obvious that he actually can't recognize the actual speed. If he commits to a speed within the range of your citation, you have established reasonable doubt.
Audio doppler, audio alarm and automatic speed lock: These are special features that most radar units incorporate to make the officer's job somewhat easier. Audio doppler is on every radar unit except the Speedgun series. If audio doppler is used, it will help the officer confirm that the target vehicle is speeding. The common problem is that the audio doppler can be turned down or off, thereby contributing nothing to the unit's reliability. The audio alarm is a preset speed that the radar unit will sound the alarm to let the officer know he has a fish on his line. The only way to disable the alarm is to dial in a very high setting such as 99 mph. The automatic speed lock is the worst feature of any radar unit. Once the unit reads a specific velocity the unit will lock that speed on the display. The officer then has no method of knowing if the reading is false or a momentary reading. This section should establish the officer's normal operating methods.
1. Does your radar unit have an audio doppler? That is, a continuous audio signal tone that converts the radar unit's doppler shift into an audible tone?
This answer should be yes unless the radar unit is a speedgun. If it is a speedgun, skip to question 13.
2. Does the audio doppler have a volume control?
3. Do you ever use yours?
If no, ask the question one more time and jump to question 13. If he says yes, then press on.
4. About what percent of the time do you use the audio doppler?
Make a note and subtract from 100 % for question 10.
5. When you operate your radar unit with the audio doppler on, do you operate at full volume?
Unless he can't hear at all, he should say no.
6. At what volume setting do you usually use the audio doppler?
This is important if it is a very low setting.
7. Do you ever turn it off?
Unless he answered question 4 with none, he will probably reply in the affirmative.
8. So why do you turn it off?
It is extremely annoying, any other answer is a cover up.
9. Does the audio doppler ever interfere with your operation of the police radio or conversation with other officers?
Of course it does, yes.
10. So you operate your radar unit with the audio doppler turned off about (fill in the number from question 4) percent of the time.
11. During the remaining duration, how often do you utilise the radar unit with the volume on low?
Note this percent amount.
12. Do you consider the audio doppler a valuable tool to prevent operator errors?
This is important if he says "no" and it transpires that he didn't use it during your citation.
13. Is your radar unit equipped with a dial which will allow you to select a speed above which an audio alarm will sound if a violation speed is detected?
All radar units have this feature.
14. Let's refer to that characteristic as an audio alarm. Do you commonly use this characteristic of the radar unit?
He has to, unless he sets it so high that it never works.
15. About what percent of the time do you use the audio alarm?
If he doesn't say 100%, then ask him how he disengages the alarm.
16. If the speed limit is 55 mph, what speed do you normally dial in as the pre-set violation speed?
Note the speed, however is not a crucial answer.
17. Do you find the audio alarm to be useful?
He will likely say that it is sometimes beneficial.
18. If a violation speed causes the alarm to sound, you only need to flip a switch to lock in that speed on the radar unit?
That's how the unit operates.
19. Does the radar unit also have a mode allowing the unit to automatically lock in the violation speed?
20. Do you ever use the automatic speed lock function?
If he says "no': ask the question again and emphasize the word "ever" while giving the officer a skeptical look. If he still says no, end this question section here. If he says yes, press on.
21. About what percent of the time do you use the automatic speed lock function?
Note the amount.
22. Do you find the automatic speed lock convenient?
23. Do you use the automatic speed lock for any other reasons?
This should be interesting.
24. Was the use of the automatic speed lock included in your training?
This answer doesn't really matter.
Determining whether the officer uses a visual backup
The typical officer has a standard pattern of testimony. This pattern normally indicates that the officer observed the defendant's vehicle doing approximately X mph and he then used the radar unit as a backup to his visual estimation of the speed. This is pure fantasy since the maximum distance a highly trained officer can make a visual identification from is approximately 500 feet. The radar unit can make the same identification for up to 5,000 feet. As a result, the audio alarm will sound before the officer can make the visual identification. This section is designed to verify this fact and try to get the officer to make a declaration that will come back to haunt him later in your presentation.
1. Are you familiar with the term "traffic history?" I want to verify that this term refers to the officerís continuous observation of the traffic.
2. Regarding speeding tickets, it is normal for an officer to observe the traffic patterns for several seconds - usually three to five - before he sees what he believes to be a speeding violation. In other words, three to five seconds before the radar unit sounds the audio alarm. Do you agree with this assessment?
He will have to agree, in order to keep up the fantasy of the radar for backup.
3. With this definition in mind, have you EVER taken a traffic history prior to issuing a speeding citation?
He should say yes. If he says no, refer to the answer to question 5.
4. What percentage of the time would you say you take a traffic history?
Thereís a good chance this number will be very high.
5. Do you feel it to be important to take a traffic history in speeding cases?
He will likely say yes. If he says no, then you have a valid argument that he was relying solely on the radar unit.
6. Roughly at what distance can you determine the exact speed of a target vehicle?
Most officers will say about 500 feet. If he doesn't give you a real answer, set up a specific scenario, such as, in the median of a level and straight, uncrowded highway. If he still doesn't answer suggest the 500 feet figure. If he doesn't accept 500 feet, adjust the number until he agrees on a specific distance.
7. When you take a traffic history and make the visual estimate of speed, do you do so before the radar unit sounds the alarm?
This is a totally crucial question. If he says yes, he's had it since the radar unit has a range of at least 1000 feet, proceed with questions 8 and 9. If he says no, then he hasn't taken a traffic history. Finish all the rest of the questions in this section.
8. What is the approximate range of your radar unit?
He will probably say he doesn't know. Toss him a high figure in the range of 3,000 to 5,000 feet. If he still doesn't know ask if he would be surprised to know that the radar unit has a range of at least 3,000 feet. If he says yes he would be surprised, you just caught him in a vital technical question.
9. Despite knowing this range, you still argue that the radar unit does not sound the audio alarm before you are able to identify the speed of a vehicle?
The real escape for him is no. He won't say that, he will more than likely say sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't.
10. If the radar unit sounds the audio alarm before you have determined that the target vehicle is speeding, how can you say that you have taken a traffic history?
He will have to say that the alarm alerts him to the presence of a potential speeder.
11. Do you look at the radar unit to see what the reading is?
He will say that he looks. If he denies looking he has to admit that he knows the vehicle is going at least as fast as the audio alarm setting.
12. The fact that the audio alarm has sounded, does this influence your judgment as you make your visual estimate of speed? That is to say, are you more likely to agree that a target vehicle is traveling a certain speed since the audio alarm has already acknowledged this fact?
He should agree. If he doesnít, then ask him why he doesn't just run the audio alarm setting up so high that it will never go off?
Determining knowledge of beam width and range
Remember that Kentucky v Honeycutt will be used to show that the officer doesnít need to be an expert in the field of radar. You are trying to demonstrate to the court that the officer lacks certain basic knowledge that he should have.
1. Do you know what the normal range of your radar unit is?
Get him to give you some kind of figure. Then give the manufacturer's data if you have it. It will likely be at least 3,000 feet.
2. At a distance of 1,000 feet, how wide is the radar beam?
Again, attempt to pin him down to a figure of some kind. Figure a traffic lane to be 12 feet. In reality, a 12 degree beam will measure 287 feet at a distance of 1,000 feet while a 24 degree beam will measure 574 feet.
3. How far from the unit will the beam travel before it covers one lane?
Again, try to get a figure. The true amount is about 50 feet but most officers will guess around 500 feet.
4. With what degree of confidence can you aim your antenna at a specific lane of traffic at a distance of 500 feet.
The answer is no confidence at all.
5. In the stationary mode, you can operate to record traffic going away from you or coming towards you, is that correct?
This is correct.
6. Can the radar unit distinguish between traffic directions?
It will pick up traffic in either direction.
7. In the moving mode, can the radar unit pick up traffic in both directions?
The Speedgun 8 unit can, most all others can only pick up traffic coming towards the radar unit.
8. What types of things will stop the radar beam? For example, will the radar
read through bushes and tall grass?
Radar can pass through light brush
9. Can you get the speed of a vehicle around a curve or over a hill?
Not even possible. Remember, the beam travels in a straight line.
10. Will the beam bounce off a metal building or sign?
11. If the beam bounces off something could it pick up the speed of another vehicle at an angle to the radar unit?.
12. Can a high-voltage power line get in the way of the radar beam?
Again, yes, absolutely.
13. What about neon signs or street lights, can they cause interference?
Notice a pattern here?
These are designed to apply the specifics of your case against the answers the officer gave for the typical operation of the unit.
1. Could you again recall the facts of this particular citation?
2. Was your audio Doppler on at the time and if so how loud?
3. What speed was the audio alarm set for? Did you make any adjustments to it during your shift?
4. Was the radar unit's automatic speed lock engaged?
5. Were you using a manual on-off switch?
6. Were you in a stationary or moving mode at the time?
7. Was the defendant approaching or traveling away from you at the time?
8. Did you see any other traffic around the defendant's vehicle? If so, what
types were they and where were they located?
9. Was there any traffic moving in the same direction as you?
10. Did you see the defendant before your audio alarm sounded?
11. Did you determine an estimated speed of the defendant's vehicle based on your visual identification? If so, what was your point of reference?
12. How many seconds passed between the time you first saw the defendant and the time your audio alarm sounded?
13. Were there any power lines in the area? Any cars or trucks with CB radio antennas? Were you using your police radio at the time? Was your police car's engine running at the time?
14. As for the calibration of the radar unit, at what times before and after you wrote the defendant's citation did you use the radar unit's internal calibration function?
15. At what times before and after you wrote the defendant's citation did you use an external tuning fork for calibration?
16. In your opinion, whatís the difference between the internal calibration and the tuning fork calibration methods?
17. Do you feel that one calibration method is more accurate than the other?
Questions 14 through 17 are vital to establish the calibration procedure followed by the officer. Remember that case law has shown that the officer should calibrate, with tuning forks, prior to and immediately after writing a citation.
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