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Joe Tacopina’s cross-examination of Randy Levine sounded less-than-effective

Nov 20, 2013, 11:03 AM EST

Joe Tacopina

It’s not a transcript, but Christian Red and Teri Thompson of the New York Daily News have a summary of the cross-examination of Yankees President Randy Levine by Alex Rodriguez‘s attorneys at the arbitration yesterday.  It sounds less than devastating.

Basically, Levine answers “no” to every possible question that looks calculated to elicit something negative. And, unless the Daily News is simply ignoring a searing impeachment of Levine later in the proceedings, there does not appear to be any followup by A-Rod’s lawyers on the denials of Levine.

Which is a pretty dumb way to approach a cross examination of a witness. The point is to score points and/or rebut the prosecution’s case against your client. To ask questions you already know the answers to so that you can demonstrate the witnesses’ lack of credibility or lack of knowledge or the weaknesses in the case against your guy. If you don’t have that kind of ammo, you don’t call the witness.

Here, it seems anyway, Tacopina just gave Randy Levine a platform to say “no, we don’t have anything against A-Rod and don’t stand to gain anything if he gets suspended.” In other words, he gave Levine a chance to undercut the very foundation of the case A-Rod’s representatives are allegedly making (i.e. that the fix is in to get A-Rod).

Maybe there’s another shoe to drop. Maybe this was a massive perjury trap for Levine and later some other witness will come on to undercut him. Maybe, however, there is nothing to those claims A-Rod’s legal team is making and they are stalling for time. Or playing to the cameras. Or … something.

  1. bmitchelf - Nov 20, 2013 at 11:06 AM

    Maybe it’s the Daily News’s usual anti-A-Rod agenda.

  2. The Dangerous Mabry - Nov 20, 2013 at 11:07 AM

    Well if they were trying to elicit something negative and he said “no”, that sounds like a victory to me. Right? Right?

    Wakka wakka wakka.

    • gdobs227 - Nov 20, 2013 at 3:42 PM

      I think you spelled that wrong. Isn’t it supposed to be Wacha Wacha Wacha?

  3. Old Gator - Nov 20, 2013 at 11:13 AM

    I’m just going to wait for the four DVD boxed set full of special features. To show up on Amazon under “used,” I mean.

  4. uyf1950 - Nov 20, 2013 at 11:14 AM

    I for one will be extremely happy when this entire thing ends the sooner the better. I’m starting to believe that Rodriguez suspension will only be cut from 211 games to 162 games (the entire 2014 season AND that Cano based on whatever advice he’s receiving from whoever is shooting himself in the foot with his 10 year/$300MM plus demand for a salary. The Yankees could very well enter the 2014 without both Rodriguez and Cano. I’m not sure at this stage that necessarily a bad thing. McCann or Saltamacchia as the new catcher, Beltran or Choo as the new right fielder, Infante as the new 2nd baseman and Uribe or Reynolds or Young as the 3rd baseman could fill 4 holes in Rodriguez and Cano’s absence. That’s just my opinion because I’m tired of all the theatrics.

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  6. Jason @ IIATMS - Nov 20, 2013 at 11:31 AM

    From the “You can’t BS a BS’er” section of the bargain bin…. Tacopina vs. Levine.

    Jurisprudence with an oilslick

  7. dsmaxsucks - Nov 20, 2013 at 11:33 AM

    Craig’s forgettting some of his legal training here. Tacopino didn’t call the witness. That’s why its called cross examination.

    And since we’re dropping the “dumb” word here, its pretty dumb to evaluate a cross examination before the evidence is in. Perhaps Levine’s easy denials were exactly what Tacopino wanted, so that later in the hearing he can provide evidence that Levine is untrustworthy.

    Plus, sometimes the case is just a loser, and evaluating a cross examination is about as valuable as evaluating neckties. This seems more like that, but we don’t know until its over.

    • billybawl - Nov 20, 2013 at 12:11 PM

      Good points, dmax. Also, in most arbitrations pursuant to a CBA, you don’t have an opportunity to depose witnesses before a hearing. No idea if that’s the case here, but if it is, a lawyer has to balance the risks when asking a question of an adverse witness. You try not to ask questions when you know the answer won’t be helpful, but you also don’t want to leave a stone unturned.

      It’s also not unheard of to ask unhelpful questions because the client insists despite all warnings to the contrary. Doesn’t make the questions better, but might not be fair to blame the attorney. In any case, there is also a risk of letting an adverse witness go unquestioned especially if he had material testimony.

      Tacopino may not just be trying to set up impeaching Levine later in THIS case, but if they lose here it’s clearly not over. Levine testified under oath, so it would at the very least look terrible for MLB if one of these statements is later deemed evasive or outright false.

    • raysfan1 - Nov 20, 2013 at 12:50 PM

      “Perhaps Levine’s easy denials were exactly what Tacopino wanted, so that later in the hearing he can provide evidence that Levine is untrustworthy.”

      “Maybe there’s another shoe to drop. Maybe this was a massive perjury trap for Levine and later some other witness will come on to undercut him.”

      Maybe it’s just me, but it sounds to me like Craig made that point.

  8. rdillon99 - Nov 20, 2013 at 12:24 PM

    The story contained within the link states that Levine was on ARod’s witness list and that it was Arod’s lawyer who put Levine on the stand, which indicates to me that this was a direct-examination, not a cross-examination.

    • shawndc04 - Nov 20, 2013 at 1:19 PM

      It’s true that Tacopina called the witness, but it is akin to calling a hostile witness at a trial. A party calls the witness but because he/she is hostile to the calling party, cross examination is permitted. From the questions it appears that Tacopina is trying to set him up for something later, either at arbitration or trial.

      • clydeserra - Nov 20, 2013 at 2:42 PM

        you put witnesses on your list so you can ask them whatever you want and not be limited to things related to the direct examination.

        I don’t trust the reporter to have gotten the procedure correct. the reporter may have, I don’t know, but its inside baseball stuff that usually flies over reporter’s heads because of the pace and rules of evidence.

  9. chip56 - Nov 20, 2013 at 12:31 PM

    Or maybe Tacopina is just a really bad lawyer. I don’t think that would come as a shock to anyone who has followed this story and seen him make one stupid decision after another.

    • ilovegspot - Nov 20, 2013 at 1:34 PM

      Hasn’t he lost most of his high profile cases?

      • clydeserra - Nov 20, 2013 at 2:43 PM

        W-L record is an even worse metric for attorneys than pitchers.

  10. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Nov 20, 2013 at 1:11 PM

    Isn’t this what lawyers do when they want to introduce their narrative vis-a-vis the questions they ask, regardless the witnesses response? Even if the witness denies everything, the lawyer has told the story he wants the court to hear.

  11. eatitfanboy - Nov 20, 2013 at 1:22 PM

    “Dumb” is trying to draw anything meaningful from second hand information that comes from reporters from the New York Daily News or the New York Post. Those papers should be used for entertainment purposes only.

  12. righthandofjustice - Nov 20, 2013 at 4:19 PM

    He might be saving the real questions in court where Levine might regain his memory under oath and he could provide the evidence Randy lied.

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