3 Times Not to Ask Leading Questions on Cross

Leading questions are the main tool of the cross-examiner—they tell a witness how to answer by suggesting an answer. See Evid C §764. But you should also know when using leading questions on cross-examination isn’t the best technique. There’s a general rule for cross-examination that you can best control the witness with leading questions. This is true, but it’s not absolute. There are situations in which leading questions may not be the way to go. For example, when you are dealing with one of the following types of witnesses: Very hostile witness. Some witnesses may be so hostile to counsel that they will have a knee-jerk reaction when asked a leading question. They will figure out the answer desired, and try to give the opposite answer. In this situation, you may not want to ask leading questions. Or maybe ask leading questions with “reverse psychology,” i.e., questions that sound as though they call for an answer different from the…

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