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Supreme Court Seal
South Carolina
Judicial Branch

RULE 611

(a) Control by Court. The court shall exercise reasonable control over the mode and order of interrogating witnesses and presenting evidence so as to (1) make the interrogation and presentation effective for the ascertainment of the truth, (2) avoid needless consumption of time, and (3) protect witnesses from harassment or undue embarrassment.

(b) Scope of Cross-Examination. A witness may be cross-examined on any matter relevant to any issue in the case, including credibility.

(c) Leading Questions. Leading questions should not be used on the direct examination of a witness except as may be necessary to develop the witness' testimony. Ordinarily leading questions should be permitted on cross-examination. When a party calls a hostile witness, an adverse party, or a witness identified with an adverse party, interrogation may be by leading questions.

(d) Re-examination and Recall. A witness may be re-examined as to the same matters to which he testified only in the discretion of the court, but without exception he may be re-examined as to any new matter brought out during cross-examination. After the examination of the witness has been concluded by all the parties to the action, that witness may be recalled only in the discretion of the court. This rule shall not limit the right of any party to recall a witness in rebuttal.


The language of subsection (a) of this rule is identical to that used in the federal rule. It is consistent with the general rule in this State that the conduct of the trial, including the examination of witnesses, is within the sound discretion of the trial judge. See McMillan v. Ridges, 229 S.C. 76, 91 S.E.2d 883 (1956); State v. Nathari, 303 S.C. 188, 399 S.E.2d 597 (Ct. App. 1990). It should be noted that Rule 614 controls the calling and interrogation of witnesses by the court.

Under South Carolina law, cross-examination is limited only by the requirement that the inquiry relate to matters pertinent to the issues involved or to impeachment of the witness. See State v. Ham, 259 S.C. 118, 191 S.E.2d 13 (1972); Hansson v. General Insulation and Acoustics, 234 S.C. 177, 107 S.E.2d 41 (1959). The scope of cross-examination is within the discretion of the trial judge. State v. Sherard, 303 S.C. 172, 399 S.E.2d 595 (1991). Subsection (b) rejects the more restrictive language of the federal rule which limits cross-examination to the subject matter of direct examination and matters affecting the credibility of the witness.

Subsection (c) is consistent with former law. See Rule 43(b)(1), SCRCP; Rule 43(b)(2), SCRCP. The use of leading questions when examining a child, State v. Hale, 284 S.C. 348, 326 S.E.2d 418 (Ct. App. 1985), cert. denied, 286 S.C. 127, 332 S.E.2d 533 (1985), is still permissible under the first sentence of subsection (c) which allows leading questions when "necessary to develop the witness' testimony."

There was no provision in the federal rule as to re-examination and recall of witnesses. The provision concerning re-examination and recall of witnesses was added to the rule to make it consistent with South Carolina law. See Levy v. Outdoor Resorts of South Carolina, Inc., 304 S.C. 427, 405 S.E.2d 387 (1991); State v. Stroman, 281 S.C. 508, 316 S.E.2d 395 (1984); Huff v. Latimer, 33 S.C. 255, 11 S.E. 758 (1890).