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A hypothetical question is one from which an expert witness is to assume as true various data that the examining counsel believes he has to prove. Some states require that the hypothetical question include every material fact and not just those that support the conclusion that the expert will express. The modern trend rejects this; opposing facts can be brought out on cross-examination.


Under our system the jury finds the facts and draws the inferences therefrom. The use of the hypothetical question is required if it is to have the benefit of expert opinions upon factual situations of which the experts have no personal knowledge. However, under the adversary method of trial, the hypothetical question has been so abused that criticism of it is now widespread and noted by every authority on evidence. E.g., Stansbury, N.C. Evidence, s. 137 (2d Ed. 1963); McCormick on Evidence, s. 16; Ladd, Expert Testimony, 5 Vand. L. Rev. 414, 427. Wigmore has urged that the hypothetical question be abolished: 'Its abuses have become so obstructive and nauseous that no remedy short of extirpation will suffice. It is a logical necessity, but a practical incubus; and logic must here be sacrificed. After all, ...

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