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What Is a Hostile Witness?

Some court trials require witness testimonies as evidence in a case. The duty of the witness is to provide an account that may prove to be useful to the legal counsel that he or she is supporting. However, there are scenarios wherein a witness does not fulfill this duty, but weakens the case instead or becomes aggressive or hostile towards the legal counsel he or she is supposedly on the same side with. When this happens, the attorney requests the judge to treat the witness as a hostile witness.

A hostile witness is then a witness who actually weakens the case of the litigant to whom he or she has been called on to support. Once the attorney requests to treat a witness as a hostile witness, the attorney is given greater freedom as to how to question the witness. Usually, an attorney is limited as to how to ask a witness certain questions. There is a kind of delicacy that is appropriated in order to draw out a relevant and credible testimony from a witness. However, when the witness chooses not to comply by providing a testimony that strengthens the case of the opposing counsel, he or she can be subject to more aggressive questioning.

An attorney who is questioning a hostile witness may do so in a manner resembling cross-examination. In essence, the attorney is given the right to question the hostile witness in any manner within reason in order to derive a testimony that can be favorable to the litigant who the witness was originally suppose to support.

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