This is probably a dumb question–I’ve never been in a trial before, so I am going off of what I’ve seen on TV (groans from you lawyers) in movies (more groans) and Court TV (Rolleyes).
On TV, at least, attorneys seem to be good at asking very specific questions and cutting witnesses off so that the answers they give (and that go on record) are as beneficial to their case as possible. For example, counsel might ask “Did you leave your car unattended? Answer YES or NO” and not allow the witness to say “Yes, but only for a minute and my niece stayed in the car.”
I know that counsel on the other side could re-examine to try to get the whole story on record, but what I am wondering is this:
Why can’t a witness insist that the court (the judge) allows him or her to answer fully, in the manner they desire? Couldn’t the witness argue that to be denied that right forces them to break their vow of telling the “WHOLE truth?” Couldn’t he argue that by not being allowed to answer fully, the counselor is in effect forcing him to commit perjury, making his testimony incomplete and misleading?
I can see where this would allow annoying loquacious ramblers like myself waste court time answering questions with too much detail. But I was just wondering why a witness doesn’t have that right or can’t make that argument.