You have likely heard this phrase many times when watching a movie or seeing a show on TV. What exactly does the phrase “Objection, leading question!” really mean?

When a lawyer is questioning a witness at trial it matters a great deal whether that witness is someone that he has called to the witness stand or whether he is cross-examining a witness called by his adversary.

If he has called this witness into court and he is now questioning him, the generally accepted practice is to ask open-ended questions that allows the witness to give long answers and explanations.

Here's an example: “Mrs. Jones, where were you going on Monday morning before this accident happened?”

That is an open-ended question that allows the witness to answer any way she see's fit.

On the other hand, if this attorney is cross-examining this witness then he would likely ask a direct leading question that simply calls for a “Yes” or “No” answer. “Mrs. Jones, you were on the way to the supermarket at the time of your accident, correct?” This is a leading question where you lead the witness to the answer without allowing them the opportunity to explain.

Leading questions are extremely important when cross examining a witness. However, they're not as useful when doing a direct examination of one of your own witnesses.

Watch the video to learn more...

Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer