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Francis L. Wellman, one of the great nineteenth-century trial lawyers, made his reputation in the musty New York court rooms of the 1880’s and 1890’s as assistant corporation counsel and assistant district attorney. He gained prominence in a number of celebrated criminal cases, including the notorious Carlyle Harris case. He became widely known for his spectacular coups in the cross-examination of witnesses, but he often emphasized that he depended not on trickery but on hard work and methodical preparation.
He was born in 1854, a direct descendant of Francis Lewis, third signer of the Declaration of Independence, and of Morgan Lewis, an early governor of New York. He died in 1942 at the age of eighty seven.
....from the Preface
I presume it is the experience of every author, after his first book is published upon an important subject, to be almost overwhelmed with a wealth of ideas and illustrations which could readily have been included in his book, and which to his own mind, at least, seem to make a second edition inevitable. Such certainly was the case with me; and when the first edition had reached its sixth impression in five months, I rejoiced to learn that it seemed to my publishers that the book had met with a sufficiently favorable reception to justify a second and considerably enlarged edition.
The book has practically been rewritten, so important are the additions, although the first few chapters have been left very much as they were. The chapter on the “Cross-examination of Experts” has been rearranged, many new examples added, and the discussion much extended. There is a new chapter on “Cross-examination to the Fallacies of Testimony,” which is intended to be a brief discussion of the philosophy of oral evidence. There is also a new chapter on “Cross-examination to Probabilities, — Personality of the Examiner~ etc., with many instructive illustrations.
Perhaps one of the most entertaining additions is the chapter devoted to “The Celebrated Breach of Promise Case of Martinez v. Del Valle,” in which one of Mr. Joseph H. Choate’s most subtle cross-examinations is given at length, with explanatory annotations. This case is placed first among the examples of celebrated cross-examinations because of these annotations. Theyare intended to guide the student and to indicate to him some of the methods that are used by great cross-examiners, in order that he may have a clearer understanding of the methods used in the cross-examinations in the chapters that follow.
Extracts from the cross-examination of Guiteau, President Garfield’s assassin, conducted by Mr. John K. Porter, comprise another new chapter. In the place of Mr. Choate's cross-examination of Russell Sage in the third trial (ettracts of which were given in the fist edition), the far more instructive and amusing cross-examination that took place in the second trial has been substituted.
Whatever in the first edition was merely amusing, or, if instructive, was somewhat obscure, has been omitted; so that quite one-half the present edition is entirely new matter, and of a more serious character. One important feature of the book is the fact that the cases and illustrations are all real, and many of them heretofore almost unknown to the profession. They have not been intentionally misrepresented or exaggerated.
This new edition of my book is submitted with the hope that my readers may take as much pleasure in its perusal as I have done in the researches necessary to its preperation.
Bar Harbour Maine, September 1, 1904