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What happens When a Judge takes Over the Questioning of a Witness

The plaintiff's lawyer is questioning a witness in a medical malpractice case, and the judge stops the lawyer, and takes over the questioning of the witness. In such an instance, what can the lawyer do if the judge takes over questioning when he is the middle of cross-examining a witness?

Why would a Judge take over the Questioning of a Witness?

When a lawyer is cross-examining a witness on the stand, the lawyer would have set a series of objectives that he would want to achieve. The lawyer will have a certain agenda in mind about what to ask the particular witness in order to achieve those objectives. Now, if the judge interrupts the lawyer, and takes over the questioning, the judge will be doing a number of things.

The judge might want information from the witness that he feels the lawyer is not getting out of the witness. Alternatively, the judge might want to find out information from the witness that the lawyer has not yet established.

What are the Effects?

However, when the judge takes over the questioning of the witness, it takes away from the attorney his ability to question the witness as he thought appropriate to achieve his objectives. Hence, can the lawyer object to the judge questioning the witness?

Since, the judge is in charge of the courtroom, he can very well go ahead and asks the witness whatever questions he wants and the lawyer cannot do much about it. However, the lawyer can raise an objection, since he would not want the judge to take away his function or his credibility, and the lawyer would not want the judge asking certain questions that he feels are not appropriate.

Lawyer can Object

Hence, ultimately, what can the lawyer to do if the judge starts asking questions to the witness? The only thing the lawyer can do is raise an objection as politely as possible. This way the lawyer can preserve his objection for an appeal.

This would mean that if for some reason the lawyer has lost his case, he can go back and see if that line of questioning by the judge and the answers given by the witness had any impact on the final decision or ultimate outcome of the case. If the lawyer feels that such questioning indeed could have influenced the outcome, then it might be grounds for an appeal, and it might even provide grounds for overturning the verdict.

Hence, even if the judge goes ahead and takes over questioning a witness, the only thing the lawyer can do is make an objection for the record. The objection will show that the lawyer had disagreed with the judge's line of questioning.

It will also let the jury know that this something that is not fair or appropriate. However, in reality the judge can simply go ahead and ask the questions he wants to the witness and at some point turn the questioning back over to the lawyer. This often happens in medical malpractice and other personal injury cases, and the only thing the trial attorney can do is raise an objection with the hope that it might be grounds for an appeal if he loses the case.

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