Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Zealous Witness Definition:

A witness who demonstrates disproportionate enthusiasm while testifying.

A. Brown defined a zealous witness as follows:

“When a witness is over-zealous on behalf of his party, the counsel who calls him ought to interrogate him with an appearance of indifference, to repress the witness’s readiness to give evidence and to prevent him from diminishing the effect of his testimony....”

From Radin:

“A zealous witness is one who is extremely anxious that the party calling him shall prevail.”

Over zealous witnesses are rare mostly because witnesses are well-advised by the lawyer conselling them to resort to no theatrics. Historically, when a mostly illiterate society as a whole was less familiar with the machinery of justice and the quest by judges for the truth and credibility, the witnesses thought that they were helping justice by telling a story, rather than just setting out the facts. This often left the impression of a zealous witness.


  • Brown, Archibald, A New Law Dictionary and Institute of the Whole Law for the Use of Students, the Legal Profession and the Public (London: Stevens & Sons, 1874), Page 391
  • Radin, Max, Radin Law Dictionary (New York: Oceana Publiations, 1955), page 376

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