Often a cross-examiner will make suggestions that are almost certainly not believed by the cross-examiner himself. I am sure that there have been belligerent witnesses who have thrown abuse, but have there been/is it common for people to answer along the lines of 'as you well know, no', or even to call the lawyer unethical/ evil for persuing that course of action to his face. Also, is there any study/experience that suggests whether this would be positively or negatively received by the jury and or judge.

  • Try to at least provide an example of a situation and question. I'm sure there is one. But I can't think of an example. Of course, an attorney cross-examining a witness doesn't believe all the propositions he makes during questioning, but usually that's because he is asking about the witness' or opposing side's view of the situation or series of events.
    – A.fm.
    Nov 27, 2019 at 6:18
  • @A.fm how about where there is third party CCTV of a kidnap, and the lawyer suggests the person went willingly. I suspect that ' you know that's a lie as you've seen the CCTV which makes you an evil little etc.' would be something that is well deserved by the evil little etc. but doubt it happens very often. I'd like to know how common it is, and if it does occur the general reaction of those involved in trial
    – user28572
    Dec 1, 2019 at 9:39
  • "evil" is an odd term in this context. Dec 19, 2019 at 5:39

1 Answer 1


That is not the witness' role

Calling out an improper question is the role of the opposing counsel or, in egregious abuses, the judge. A witness is required to answer the questions that are put to them as clearly and concisely as they can. If they don't, the come across as snarky and contrary - this rarely endears them to the jury.

  • 3
    Sometimes a witness can say something along the lines of "I don't know how to answer that question because it assumes something that isn't true."
    – ohwilleke
    Dec 19, 2019 at 4:37

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