Rule 611: Mode and Order of Interrogation and Presentation.

Article VI. Witnesses


(a) Control by Court - The court shall exercise appropriate control over the presentation of evidence and conduct of the trial when necessary to avoid abuse by counsel.

(b) Scope of Cross-Examination - A witness may be cross-examined on any matter relevant to any issue in the case, including credibility, except as provided in paragraph (c)(2) of this rule.

(c) Leading Questions -
(1) Leading questions should not be used on the direct examination of a witness except as may be necessary to develop the witness's testimony. Leading questions should be permitted on cross-examination.

(2) When a party calls a hostile witness, an adverse party (or an officer, director, or managing agent of a public or private corporation or of a partnership, association, or individual proprietorship which is an adverse party), or a witness identified with an adverse party, interrogation may be by leading questions. The scope of cross-examination under this paragraph shall be limited to the subject matter of direct examination, and cross-examination may be by leading questions.

[As amended by order filed December 21, 2010, effective July 1, 2011.]

Advisory Commission Comments.

Part (a) recognizes the inherent power of a court to control trial conduct to prevent lawyers from abusing the process.

Part (b) retains the English rule permitting wide-open scope of cross-examination historically favored in Tennessee. Sands v. Southern Railway Co., 108 Tenn. 1, 64 S.W. 478 (1901), is the leading case.

Part (c) attempts to resolve leading question problems. Generally a lawyer may lead on cross but not on direct.

Advisory Commission Comments [2011].

Amended Rule 611 allows a lawyer to ask leading questions when calling a "witness identified with an adverse party" in all civil and criminal proceedings.

Advisory Commission Comments [2017].

Nothing in these rules prohibits the court in its inherent authority from permitting a suitable animal, toy, or support person to accompany a witness who is shown to be at risk for being unable to communicate effectively without the aid of such comfort. See State v. Juan Jose Reyes, No. M2015-00504-CCA-R3-CD, 2016 WL 3090904 (Tenn. Crim. App. May 24, 2016), perm. app. denied (Tenn. Sept. 23, 2016).

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