When Can You Use Leading Questions In Court?


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You can use leading questions in a variety of situations.

If you are cross examining a witness, you may *always* use leading questions.  In fact, from the lawyer's perspective, leading questions are preferable because they allow the attorney to control the witness and shape the arc of the story being told through the witness' testimony.  Cross examination generally occurs when you are questioning the other side's witnesses.

As a general rule, if you are questioning your own witness, you cannot use leading questions and must use open-ended questions.  There are a few exceptions to this rule.  For example, if you are merely clarifying or summing up a witness' previous testimony, leading questions are usually allowed.  In addition, if you have a "hostile witness" who has been so declared by the presiding judge upon the attorney's request and after reasonable attempts at direct examination have failed, you may use leading questions with the hostile witness.

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