Snitches: Joe Friedberg on Cross of Government Informants CLE

At our December 14, 2019 meeting, legendary defense lawyer and longtime mscj member Joe Friedberg presented on the cross-examination of snitches.

The care and feeding of snitches, rats, and confidential informants

First, we need to understand what prosecutors do. So we need to look at the care and feeding of snitches, rats, and confidential informants.

How does the snitch benefit?

What is the government attorney using to motivate the cooperating witness? Their freedom — less prison time? Reduced charges? Money? Their family? How does the snitch benefit?


Next, how trustworthy is this government witness? Is this an honest person? And what have they done in the past to demonstrate trust?


What specific motivations has the government placed over the witnesses head, in this case? So, what quid pro quo for the government’s testimony?

Helping the jury test the snitch

Defense attorneys can help the jury see the cooperating government witness for what he is. And we can help jurors evaluate the credibility – or lack of it — for testifying snitches.

One more thing …

Attorney Joe Friedberg teaches cross of snitches
Attorney Joe Friedberg teaches cross of snitches

But of course we might ask the one question too many. And Attorney Joe Friedberg recounted examples of his own cases with the one question too many. All those in attendance could relate.

Experience, after all, is the great teacher. And Attorney Joe Friedberg is a great teacher, with an abundance of experience.

The best defense

The joys of lawyering include collegial relationships. So we share information and help each other. And we do, especially with colleagues who at first blush might appear to be competitors. But the more we give each other, the better we get. And no one exhibits this spirit of giving more than Lawyer Joe Friedberg.

Lawyer Joe Friedberg has been a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice for decades. And MSCJ is an association of some of the best criminal defense lawyers in Minnesota. Is your lawyer an MSCJ member?

If you’re a Minnesota Criminal Lawyer interested in applying for membership, let us know.