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Federal Rules of Evidence - Witnesses

NCJ Number
B Goldstein; A Hantman
Date Published
0 pages
Federal Rules of Evidence 601-606 and 612-615 that pertain to witnesses (i.e., witness competency, truthfulness, use of written documents, and conditions of testimony) are explained.
Rule 601 provides that the determination of witnesses' competency be made by the judge at the time of trial. Witnesses who may testify after being ruled competent to do so include convicted felons, young children, spouses, the mentally ill, accomplices, narcotic addicts, and paid informants. Rule 602 provides that witnesses' lack of personal knowledge excludes them from testifying except when expert witnesses are involved or in other circumstances. Rule 603 requires that witnesses give an oath or affirmation that they will testify truthfully. Rule 604 states that interpreters must also swear to give an honest translation of the witnesses' testimony and must be qualified as expert witnesses. Rule 605 provides that a judge presiding at a trial may not testify at that trial, and Rule 606 provides that no jurors may be witnesses in a case in which they are serving as petit jurors. Rule 612 states that written documents (as previously recorded testimony) may be used to refresh witnesses' memories except as otherwise provided in criminal proceedings. Rule 613 applies when witnesses give testimony that is inconsistent with previously written statements. Rule 614 relates to witnesses' summons and interrogation by the court, while 615 provides for the exclusion of witnesses so that they may not hear other witnesses' testimony. Cases are cited to illustrate these rules, and audience discussion follows each explanation. For discussion of general provisions of the Federal Rules of Evidence, see NCJ 81940.


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