Civil Litigation-Direct Examination

The party that calls a witness to testify is required to ask that witness nonleading questions. That form of examination, called direct examination, is intended to allow the witness to testify rather than to have the attorney testify. If the attorney were allowed to ask leading questions (questions that suggest the answer within the content of the question) then in essence the attorney is testifying and not the witness. An example of a leading question would be "Isn't it true that you beat your wife?" That question, by its very content, suggests that the answer is yes-that the witness does beat his wife. That type of questioning is not allowed on direct examination. A nonleading form of that same question would be "What do you know about your wife having been beaten?" The general purpose of direct examination of witnesses is to allow the witness to explain what he or she knows. If that witness provides testimony that needs further explanation, then the attorney can ask the witness to simply explain the answer.

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