Showdown at the W-Q Ranch


Ejectment action by P against D. P's complaint avers that he owns the W-Q Ranch and that D is wrongfully in possession. P prays for judgment giving possession of the W-Q Ranch to P. The former owner of the W-Q Ranch was Mr. Quarrels. Mr. Quarrels died New Year's Day, 1990. P is Mr. Quarrels's nephew; D is Mr. Quarrels's son. D claims as Mr. Quarrels's heir; P claims as Mr. Quarrels's grantee and claims that a document he possesses (Plaintiff's Exhibit A) is a deed whereby Mr. Quarrels granted the W-Q Ranch to P in fee simple absolute. Exhibit A is dated December 23, 1989. D has examined Exhibit A and claims that Mr. Quarrels's signature is spurious and that even if it is real the document was never delivered to take effect as a deed. At trial, P is the first witness. He testifies that on December 24, 1989, he received Exhibit A through the mail, was overjoyed, and said to himself, "Hooray for Uncle Q!" Plaintiff's second witness is Mr. M, the late Mr. Quarrels's secretary and manager of the W-Q Ranch. On direct examination M testifies that on December 23 in Mr. Quarrels's study at the W-Q Ranch he saw Mr. Quarrels sign Exhibit A. On cross-examination Mr. M is asked the following question:

Q: Isn't it true that on January 1, 1990, at the W-Q Ranch, you saw Exhibit A among the papers on Mr. Quarrels's desk?

(1) On P's objection what ruling and why? What problem regarding the scope of cross-examination is presented by this example that has not been presented by the previous problems? If there should be a rule of restrictive cross-examination, how should it be applied when multiple witnesses have testified and the question asked on cross-examination of a later witness (W2) is within the scope of questions asked on direct examination of a former witness (W1) but not within the scope of the direct examination of the witness on the stand (W2)?

(2) Suppose P's objection is sustained. M then turns to the judge and says that he is most anxious to complete his testimony in the case and leave for Australia, where he has an impending business engagement. D proposes that he make M his witness and examine M then and there on the question of delivery of the deed. P objects. What should the court do? If the court accepts defendant's suggestion, how will the procedure differ from allowing D to put his questions regarding delivery of the deed to M on cross-examination? What types of questions will be permitted, or precluded, by following the procedure suggested by D?

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