hostile witness

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Hostile Witness

A witness at a trial who is so adverse to the party that called him or her that he or she can be cross-examined as though called to testify by the opposing party.

The Federal Rules of Evidence provide that witnesses who are hostile, or adverse, can be interrogated through the use of leading questions.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

hostile witness

a witness expected to give testimony favourable to the examiner but who in fact begins to give testimony not only unhelpful to the case but directed against it. In general, a person called as a witness may not be cross-examined by the party calling him. However, where a witness in the examination in chief demonstrates hostility to the party who called him, that witness may, with the leave of the judge, be cross-examined by the party calling him. A witness is not to be regarded as hostile by reason only of the fact that he gives evidence unfavourable to the party calling him. This phrase has no technical meaning in Scotland, the advocate or solicitor being free to challenge a witness he himself has called, without the leave of the court.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006
References in periodicals archive ?
McTavish, delicately but expertly cross-examining the adverse witnesses, got them to admit they weren't watching the hands of Gutierrez, they were tunneled in on the cops who, after all, had guns in their hands and drew their attention.
Among the concerns that the Legislature should consider in crafting such exception are (1) whether a new exception is necessary; (2) whether any new exception is appropriately circumscribed to preserve the accused's right to cross-examine adverse witnesses; (3) whether the proposed exception poses an inadvertent double hearsay problem; and (4) whether California should deviate from its practice of prohibiting the use of inadmissible evidence as proof of the foundational elements of any exception.
The Court noted that the confrontation clause of the sixth amendment gives the accused the right "to be confronted with the witnesses against him," and that this right had long been read as giving the accused an adequate opportunity to cross-examine adverse witnesses. In this case, although Foster could not remember the basis of his prior identification of Owens in the photographic array, he was present at trial, and counsel for Owens was given the opportunity to conduct a cross-examination and to probe the unreliability of Foster's memory.
A defendant was denied an opportunity to confront adverse witnesses against him in violation of the Sixth Amendment and article 1, section 10 of the Rhode Island Constitution, the state Supreme Court has held, overturning his conviction for the 1990 sexual assault and murder of an elderly West Warwick woman.
"The supermajority has defied and defiled the Constitution and the Rules of the House in denying the Chief Justice the right to have her counsel confront and cross-examine the adverse witnesses even as it jettisoned the erstwhile unbroken tradition that House Members who are not members of the committees have the right to participate in deliberations of such committees, including the Committee on Justice conducting proceedings with "right of voice and not of vote," he said.
Unchallenged, adverse witnesses gained the time and opportunity to tug at other threads of corrupt transactions, leaving critical points uncontested:
The presentation included practice tips for handling experts and adverse witnesses and videotapes of cross-examination techniques.
Nothing in the FCRA even authorizes the employer to edit the report, to maintain, for example, the anonymity of adverse witnesses whose safety or lives might be at stake.
Adverse witnesses often testify vividly about events on direct examination and then cannot recall the same events clearly on cross-examination.
The court found that prior to removal of a New York prisoner from temporary work release a pr isoner must be given the following: written notice of the alleged violation; statement of the actual reason for which removal is being considered; a report or summary of the evidence against him/her; an opportunity to be heard and to present evidence; advance notice of a temporary release committee hearing: the right to confront and cross examine adverse witnesses; a committee composed of neutral decision-makers; and a post-hearing written account of the actual reason for removal.
Anyone who regularly handles complex medical negligence cases knows that self-education is necessary to deal with your own experts intelligently and depose and cross-examine adverse witnesses effectively.