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BOOK REVIEW: Excellence in Cross-Examination by F. Lee Bailey and Kenneth J. Fishman


As a newly licensed private investigator in the State of Maine in April 1975, Investigation and Preparation of Criminal Cases, Federal and State, by F. Lee Bailey and Henry B. Rothblatt became my bible. Immersed in the criminal defense arena by one of my early cases, State of Maine v Truman Dongo and Herbert Schwartz, I relied upon the insights of Bailey and Rothblatt. Without their guidance in print and the superb lawyering of defense counsel in the courtroom, the resulting acquittals of Dongo and Schwartz may not have been possible.


After 38 years in the field I was pleased to delve into Lee Bailey and Ken Fishman’s recent treatise, Excellence in Cross-Examination. Much of the material addressed and brilliantly outlined in this well written manual applies to private investigation as well as trial advocacy. The rules of evidence are explored in detail regarding the admissibility of same and the application of those rules during testimony of witnesses. Several criminal cases in which Bailey was involved are explored in detail including the Sam Shepard trial with transcripts of effective cross examination appended.


The section on “Methods of Discovery” alone is worth the price of this volume. In it the authors quote both Edward Bennett Williams and Melvin Belli regarding case preparation and the value of a good investigator in accomplishing same. The advantage to the litigator of having a capable investigator flesh out the facts of the case prior to formal depositions in a civil matter or trial in the criminal arena is underscored. The investigator’s ability to search the internet and other public sources for background on potential witnesses is stressed so that the litigator is better prepared to handle a witness in deposition or at trial.


The authors sagely acknowledge that “investigators of a trial-ready high caliber are as rare as top-shelf cross examiners; finding one of these should be a top priority for any trial lawyer who does not have one.” As a marketing tool for investigators this volume is unsurpassed. We should buy them in bulk to pass out to members of the trial bar in our jurisdictions.


All investigators will want to access to the information contained in this book, absorb it and apply it in the field during his or her next civil or criminal case. This volume belongs in the library of all investigators and litigators regardless of the side for which they are working. Thank you, Messrs Bailey and Fishman.


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