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Definition of Leading Question

Leading questions are questions asked in a court case which can evoke a specific response from the witness. Such questions cannot be asked of the plaintiffs or defendants own witnesses and are viewed as a breach of ethics and professionalism. Leading questions may be asked only of hostile witnesses and on cross-examination.

In the simplest explanation a leading question is a question that asserts the answer to the question. For example, the question, "You saw Susan, the defendant, leaving the scene didn't you?" is considered a leading question. Compare this question to an open-ended question such as, "What did you see?" This question allows the witness to answer, "I saw the defendant, Susan, leaving the scene." Some questions are considered between leading and open-ended such as, "Did you see Susan leaving the scene?" It allows the witness to testify either yes or no, but does not imply Susan was leaving the scene.

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