Federal Rules of Evidence – Rule 607 (through December 1, 2015)

Crushed Rule

Any party may attack any witness’s credibility.

Actual Rule

Any party, including the party that called the witness, may attack the witness’s credibility.

Selected Committee Notes 

The traditional rule against impeaching one’s own witness is abandoned as based on false premises. A party does not hold out his witnesses as worthy of belief, since he rarely has a free choice in selecting them. Denial of the right leaves the party at the mercy of the witness and the adversary. If the impeachment is by a prior statement, it is free from hearsay dangers and is excluded from the category of hearsay under Rule 801(d)(1). Ladd, Impeachment of One’s Own Witness—New Developments 4 U.Chi.L.Rev. 69 (1936); McCormick §38; 3 Wigmore §§896–918. The substantial inroads into the old rule made over the years by decisions, rules, and statutes are evidence of doubts as to its basic soundness and workability. Cases are collected in 3 Wigmore §905. Revised Rule 32(a)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows any party to impeach a witness by means of his deposition, and Rule 43(b) has allowed the calling and impeachment of an adverse party or person identified with him. Illustrative statutes allowing a party to impeach his own witness under varying circumstances are Ill.Rev. Stats.1967, c. 110, §60; Mass.Laws Annot. 1959, c. 233 §23; 20 N.M.Stats. Annot. 1953, §20–2–4; N.Y. CPLR §4514 (McKinney 1963); 12 Vt.Stats. Annot. 1959, §§1641a, 1642. Complete judicial rejection of the old rule is found in United States v. Freeman, 302 F.2d 347 (2d Cir. 1962). The same result is reached in Uniform Rule 20; California Evidence Code §785; Kansas Code of Civil Procedure §60–420. See also New Jersey Evidence Rule 20.

 

Key Rules (MBE/MEE)