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Loren, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  30 years experience representing clients.
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Civil action: cross examination of witness - can you ask a

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Civil action: cross examination of witness - can you ask a witness questions beyond the scope of direct examination?
Thank you for using JustAnswer. I am JudgeLaw and I will do whatever I can to answer your question and provide excellent service.

No, as a general rule, cross examination is limited to information raised on direct examination. The other side must "open the door" on direct for you to raise it again on cross.

I hope this is helpful. If you have more follow up questions please let me know. It is never a problem.

Thank you.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Even questions related to witness credibility?


Credibility still has to be impeached using subject matter raised on direct. However, the court has discretion to allow some leeway to see where a particular line of cross is heading. You may be able to go outside the scope of direct a little bit with that discretional leeway.
Loren and 4 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Thank you for your positive rating of my service to you. Let me know if you need more help or have future questions. I will be here for you. Just ask for me by name at the start of your question - "JudgeLaw" or use the following link (which you can bookmark in your browser):

Best wishes and good luck to you.

If it is not too much trouble, Rick, when you receive a Customer Satisfaction Survey from JA/Pearl in a day or two, please do rate me highly (9 or 10). It affects my ability to continue to assist you and other customers on JA/Pearl and would be most appreciated.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I'm confused now. I asked a question specific to impeaching a witness and another expert aswered it. He said that I can ask any question I want on cross as long as it's related to the case; anything Plaintiff brought up in motions, pleading, discovery, affidavitts, etc is fair game even if it was not part of the direct.


So, there must be some distinction I'm not comprehending. Can you clarify?

I reviewed what Dimitry said and I am in complete agreement.

Credibility is always a valid issue and is can be brought up on cross. A judge will give broad leeway on a line of questioning regarding credibility. If I gave the impression that it would not be allowed, I apologize for the misunderstanding.

It still has to be related to the subject of the direct examination-but not specifically, otherwise, it is irrelevant.


Customer: replied 3 years ago.

let's say the quesation is relavent to the my defense, it has nothing to do with credibility of the witness herself, but the witness has information. Can I pursue it on cross if plaintiff mentioned it in the pleadings, motions, discovery, affidavitts, etc?

Cross-examination should not go beyond the subject matter of the direct examination and matters affecting the witness’s credibility. The court may allow inquiry into additional matters as if on direct examination.

So, as a general rule, no, if not raised on direct and not related to witness credibility, it should not be allowed on cross. However, you may be able to call the witness yourself for direct examination and raise whatever testimony you deem relevant.

I hope this is helpful.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

How about the plaintiff? Am I restricted to cross, or can I call him when presenting the defense case?

You can call the plaintiff, or any other person with relevant information.

However, you may want to make use of discovery tools, such as requests for admission and depositions before trial.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I sent 24 interrogatories and 24 admissions...he answered 25% of them as priv against self incrimination.


Do I have to put plaintiff on my witness list, or can I just call him at trial?

You need to put him on the witness list. You can also file a motion to compel to get answers to the rest of your discovery.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So, I can refute objections in a motion to compel?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I posted a question ferom your profile page and ended up with another expert, jd 1992. You might want to contact the admin and find out if hour wires are crossed with this other guy.


It worked ou, the guyh gave me good advice, but the entire time, I thought I was talking with you.

Thank you for following up. JD 1992 is an excellent Professional and I am sure you were well served.

I do not know how the site functions from the profile pages, but I will mention it tomthe moderator.

Thanks again.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

If during cross, the witness says something that is hearsay or otherwise objectionable, do I object while questioning? what's the proper action?

Format error.
Yes, you must object at the time the improper testimony is given. You just state "objection" and wait for the court to acknowledge your objection. The judge may simply sustain your objection or ask you to elaborate on the reason and them rule.

The judge can also delay ruling to see if the questioning is leading to something admissible.

Thank you.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Sorry, I didn't word that well. If I am the one questioning the witness on cross, do I object to the witness's statement?

Yes, either attorney may object.

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