Cross-Examination of the Accused

Cornell Law Quarterly, Vol. 52, No. 5 (1967), pp. 705-722


A rule of cross-examination long operative in federal criminal trials limits the permissible scope of cross-examination to matters opened up by the defendant in his direct testimony. A competing rule employed in some states permits wide-open cross-examination of the accused. the author traces the history of the more limited federal rule and examines its constitutional basis. The question of whether the limited rule is required by the fifth amendment is explored, as well as the implications of this question for states conducting criminal prosecutions under the wide-open rule. Finally, the author considers the problem of unsettling prior convictions should the fifth amendment impose a constitutional limitation upon cross-examination.