Historically, limitations upon a party's impeaching its own witness and upon using leading questions during direct examination have been intertwined. This interplay continued longer in Florida than in most jurisdictions because Florida was slow to abandon the general rule against impeachment of a party's own witness. Underlying policies created confusion concerning the permissible use of leading questions during direct examination. Adding to the terms, similar terms defined impeachment and the exceptions to prohibitions on leading questions.
Clarification of this area began in 1990, when the Florida Legislature amended section 90.608, Florida Statutes, to adopt the Federal Rules of Evidence view, permitting impeachment of a party's own witness. In 1995, the Florida Legislature amended section 90.612(3), Florida Statutes, to adopt Federal Rule of Evidence 611(c) providing for the use of leading questions during direct examination. The Legislature thereby completed the clarification process.
This Article traces the development of the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure and the Florida Statutes from before the adoption of the Florida Evidence Code to the present as they affect the use of leading questions. The Article focuses particularly on the significance of the 1995 action of the Florida Legislature in amending section 90.612(3), Florida Statutes.
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