phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

On a Fishing Expedition

Posted by Lewis on June 02, 2003

In Reply to: On a Fishing Expedition posted by R. Berg on May 27, 2003

: :
: : Need help!

: : What does it mean to say someone is on
: : a fishing expetition?

: : Thanks!

: Unless it's meant literally, it means the person is asking a series of questions without knowing the answers, hoping to find something that supports his or her argument. It's said of lawyers questioning witnesses.

Some trainers say "Never ask a question [of a witness] unless you already know the answer"
- anything else is "fishing".

"Going on a fishing expedition" can be dangerous for an advocate - one question too far and you can often hear the case flushing down the toilet.

An example from Lewis's casebook : "you have already confirmed to the court that on the night in question, you did not have much to drink...can you tell the court how much was "not much"?" and the answer was "9 pints of lager"! (But 9 pints isn't much to me!")