You don’t say … or maybe you did. A brief explanation of witness impeachment by prior inconsistent statement.
The ability to impeach a witness is a trial skill that is perfected over time. It should not be undertaken lightly because a butchered impeachment of a key witness at trial can spectacularly backfire and unintentionally bolster the credibility of the witness. Although the principles of impeachment can be easily learned through studying caselaw, impeachment is better understood in practice and requires years to master. Watching an attorney perform a skillful impeachment is like watching a master craftsman carve a magnificent statute out of a single block of granite. It is akin to an artform. As with many trial skills, the more trial experience an attorney has, the better the attorney usually is at impeaching a witness. In this regard, there are no substitutes for trial experience and trial preparation.