ARTICLE VI. WITNESSES
FRE 601: Competency to Testify in General
Every person is competent to be a witness unless these rules provide otherwise. But in a civil case, state law governs the witness’s competency regarding a claim or defense for which state law supplies the rule of decision.
FRE 602: Need for Personal Knowledge
A witness may testify to a matter only if evidence is introduced sufficient to support a finding that the witness has personal knowledge of the matter. Evidence to prove personal knowledge may consist of the witness’s own testimony. This rule does not apply to a witness’s expert testimony under Rule 703.
FRE 603: Oath or Affirmation to Testify Truthfully
Before testifying, a witness must give an oath or affirmation to testify truthfully. It must be in a form designed to impress that duty on the witness’s conscience.
FRE 604: Interpreter
An interpreter must be qualified and must give an oath or affirmation to make a true translation.
FRE 605: Judge
The presiding judge may not testify as a witness at the trial. A party need not object to preserve the issue.
FRE 606: Juror
(a) At the Trial. A juror may not testify as a witness before the other jurors at the trial. If a juror is called to testify, the court must give a party an opportunity to object outside the jury’s presence.
(b) During an Inquiry into the Validity of a Verdict or Indictment.
(1) Prohibited Testimony or Other Evidence. During an inquiry into the validity of a verdict or indictment, a juror may not testify about any statement made or incident that occurred during the jury’s deliberations; the effect of anything on that juror’s or another juror’s vote; or any juror’s mental processes concerning the verdict or indictment. The court may not receive a juror’s affidavit or evidence of a juror’s statement on these matters.
(2) Exceptions. A juror may testify about whether:
(A) extraneous prejudicial information was improperly brought to the jury’s attention;
(B) an outside influence was improperly brought to bear on any juror; or
(C) a mistake was made in entering the verdict on the verdict form.
FRE 607: Who May Impeach a Witness
Any party, including the party that called the witness, may attack the witness’s credibility.
FRE 608: A Witness
(a) Reputation or Opinion Evidence. A witness’s credibility may be attacked or supported by testimony about the witness’s reputation for having a character for truthfulness or untruthfulness, or by testimony in the form of an opinion about that character. But evidence of truthful character is admissible only after the witness’s character for truthfulness has been attacked.
(b) Specific Instances of Conduct. Except for a criminal conviction under Rule 609, extrinsic evidence is not admissible to prove specific instances of a witness’s conduct in order to attack or support the witness’s character for truthfulness. But the court may, on cross-examination, allow them to be inquired into if they are probative of the character for truthfulness or untruthfulness of:
(1) the witness; or
(2) another witness whose character the witness being cross-examined has testified about.
By testifying on another matter, a witness does not waive any privilege against self-incrimination for testimony that relates only to the witness’s character for truthfulness.
FRE 609: Impeachment by Evidence of a Criminal Conviction
(a) In General. The following rules apply to attacking a witness’s character for truthfulness by evidence of a criminal conviction:
(1) for a crime that, in the convicting jurisdiction, was punishable by death or by imprisonment for more than one year, the evidence:
(A) must be admitted, subject to Rule 403, in a civil case or in a criminal case in which the witness is not a defendant; and
(B) must be admitted in a criminal case in which the witness is a defendant, if the probative value of the evidence outweighs its prejudicial effect to that defendant; and
(2) for any crime regardless of the punishment, the evidence must be admitted if the court can readily determine that establishing the elements of the crime required proving — or the witness’s admitting — a dishonest act or false statement.
(b) Limit on Using the Evidence After 10 Years. This subdivision (b) applies if more than 10 years have passed since the witness’s conviction or release from confinement for it, whichever is later. Evidence of the conviction is admissible only if:
(1) its probative value, supported by specific facts and circumstances, substantially outweighs its prejudicial effect; and
(2) the proponent gives an adverse party reasonable written notice of the intent to use it so that the party has a fair opportunity to contest its use.
(c) Effect of a Pardon, Annulment, or Certificate of Rehabilitation. Evidence of a conviction is not admissible if:
(1) the conviction has been the subject of a pardon, annulment, certificate of rehabilitation, or other equivalent procedure based on a finding that the person has been rehabilitated, and the person has not been convicted of a later crime punishable by death or by imprisonment for more than one year; or
(2) the conviction has been the subject of a pardon, annulment, or other equivalent procedure based on a finding of innocence.
(d) Juvenile Adjudications. Evidence of a juvenile adjudication is admissible under this rule only if:
(1) it is offered in a criminal case;
(2) the adjudication was of a witness other than the defendant;
(3) an adult’s conviction for that offense would be admissible to attack the adult’s credibility; and
(4) admitting the evidence is necessary to fairly determine guilt or innocence.
(e) Pendency of an Appeal. A conviction that satisfies this rule is admissible even if an appeal is pending. Evidence of the pendency is also admissible.
FRE 610: Religious Beliefs or Opinions
Evidence of a witness’s religious beliefs or opinions is not admissible to attack or support the witness’s credibility.
FRE 611: Mode and Order of Examining Witnesses and Presenting Evidence
(a) Control by the Court; Purposes. The court should exercise reasonable control over the mode and order of examining witnesses and presenting evidence so as to:
(1) make those procedures effective for determining the truth;
(2) avoid wasting time; and
(3) protect witnesses from harassment or undue embarrassment.
(b) Scope of Cross-Examination. Cross-examination should not go beyond the subject matter of the direct examination and matters affecting the witness’s credibility. The court may allow inquiry into additional matters as if on direct examination.
(c) Leading Questions. Leading questions should not be used on direct examination except as necessary to develop the witness’s testimony. Ordinarily, the court should allow leading questions:
(1) on cross-examination; and
(2) when a party calls a hostile witness, an adverse party, or a witness identified with an adverse party.
FRE 612: Writing Used to Refresh a Witness
(a) Scope. This rule gives an adverse party certain options when a witness uses a writing to refresh memory:
(1) while testifying; or
(2) before testifying, if the court decides that justice requires the party to have those options.
(b) Adverse Party’s Options; Deleting Unrelated Matter. Unless 18 U.S.C. § 3500 provides otherwise in a criminal case, an adverse party is entitled to have the writing produced at the hearing, to inspect it, to cross-examine the witness about it, and to introduce in evidence any portion that relates to the witness’s testimony. If the producing party claims that the writing includes unrelated matter, the court must examine the writing in camera, delete any unrelated portion, and order that the rest be delivered to the adverse party. Any portion deleted over objection must be preserved for the record.
(c) Failure to Produce or Deliver the Writing. If a writing is not produced or is not delivered as ordered, the court may issue any appropriate order. But if the prosecution does not comply in a criminal case, the court must strike the witness’s testimony or — if justice so requires — declare a mistrial.
FRE: 613. Witness
(a) Showing or Disclosing the Statement During Examination. When examining a witness about the witness’s prior statement, a party need not show it or disclose its contents to the witness. But the party must, on request, show it or disclose its contents to an adverse party’s attorney.
(b) Extrinsic Evidence of a Prior Inconsistent Statement. Extrinsic evidence of a witness’s prior inconsistent statement is admissible only if the witness is given an opportunity to explain or deny the statement and an adverse party is given an opportunity to examine the witness about it, or if justice so requires. This subdivision (b) does not apply to an opposing party’s statement under Rule 801(d)(2).
FRE 614: Court
(a) Calling. The court may call a witness on its own or at a party’s request. Each party is entitled to cross-examine the witness.
(b) Examining. The court may examine a witness regardless of who calls the witness.
(c) Objections. A party may object to the court’s calling or examining a witness either at that time or at the next opportunity when the jury is not present.
FRE 615: Excluding Witnesses
At a party’s request, the court must order witnesses excluded so that they cannot hear other witnesses’ testimony. Or the court may do so on its own. But this rule does not authorize excluding:
(a) a party who is a natural person;
(b) an officer or employee of a party that is not a natural person, after being designated as the party’s representative by its attorney;
(c) a person whose presence a party shows to be essential to presenting the party’s claim or defense; or
(d) a person authorized by statute to be present.