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Ch 8 Week 8 Witness Competency, Creditability, and Impeachment

by: Chelsey Smith

Ch 8 Week 8 Witness Competency, Creditability, and Impeachment CJ 433

Marketplace > University of Southern Mississippi > Criminal Justice > CJ 433 > Ch 8 Week 8 Witness Competency Creditability and Impeachment
Chelsey Smith
GPA 3.9

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About this Document

These notes cover the various reasons deeming a witness incompetent along with impeaching and building back up their creditability.
Evidence, Search, & Seizure
Thomas Schwartz
Class Notes
Criminal, Justice, Evidence, search, Seizure, witness, creditability
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Chelsey Smith on Thursday October 13, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to CJ 433 at University of Southern Mississippi taught by Thomas Schwartz in Summer 2015. Since its upload, it has received 10 views. For similar materials see Evidence, Search, & Seizure in Criminal Justice at University of Southern Mississippi.


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Date Created: 10/13/16
Evidence, Search, and Seizure October 12, 2016 Chapter 8: Witness Competency, Creditability, and Impeachment • Competency of Witnesses o Particular characteristics are taken into account such as age- especially younger testimonies are to be viewed cautiously, mental capacity, role in trial, any relationship to the defendant can be used to cast doubt o Particular disabilities o Competency encompasses whether a person understands the duty to tell the truth o Federal rule 601specifically says that every person is deemed to be competent unless a doubt is cast • 5 I’s of Incompetency of English Courts (antiquated, no longer used) o interest in outcome of verdict o insane o idolatry, adherence to non-mainstream religions such as pagans were viewed with distrust o infamy, criminals deemed to be civilly dead • 6 Categories of Problematic Witnesses- to challenge witness competency 1. Mental capacity in question- is the person presently competent? Do they understand the duty to tell the truth or the consequences of lying? Can they perceive and understand what they witnessed? a. To challenge mental capacity i. Does the witness understand the duty to tell the truth? ii. Witness does not understand consequences of lying iii. Witness does not perceive reality as to accurately give a narration 2. Children- overly suggestive psychological interviews can plant ideas into children’s head so that they could make false accusations a. 4 Factors to Evaluate Whether a Child is Competent i. The ability to observe ii. The ability to recollect/remember iii. The ability to communicate iv. They understand the duty to tell the truth 3. Spouses- have an incentive to lie for partner 4. People with Criminal History a. People are not disqualified as a witness as a result of a conviction, but should be heard with caution b. It’s very problematic if their charge deals with dishonesty or fraud 5. People’s Certain Religious Beliefs a. A lack of religious beliefs could be construed into a lack of moral obligation of the duty to tell what is right by swearing an oath to God 6. Judges and Jury Members – most problematic group a. Judges are never competent in the trial they are or have presided over b. A person may never testify in a trial that the juror is serving • Deadman Status- does not exist in criminal law, but it states that the witness may not testify about a person who died before the trial- mainly in the settlement of estates • Corroboration- supporting evidence o The use of physical or testimonial evidence to back up a witness o No person shall be convicted of treason in the US without 2 corroborating witnesses • Impeachment of Witness o This challenges a witness’s believability before the jury o Can impeach your own witness if they no longer give consistent testimony o Viewed cautiously by juror • 6 Reasons for Impeaching a Witness 1. Bias or Prejudice a. close, personal friend/ enemy would give a motive to falsely testify 2. Prior Convictions a. Rule 609- prior conviction involving or dealing with dishonesty is grounds for impeachment 3. Uncharged Crimes and Immoral Acts 4. Prior Inconsistent Statements 5. Inability to Observe 6. Reputation a. Dependent’s reputation can never be used unless he calls a character witness • Rehabilitating a Witness o DA redirects impeachment to build witness back up o Can show that inconsistent statements were taken out of context o Bolstering Creditability (not during direct examination but after impeachment) *Be sure to reference discussion questions in Ch 8 of book for possible quiz questions


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