Witness Examination, Credibility and Impeachment
Investigator and witness credibility becomes a very important issue when it comes to testifying in court. The fact is that both the investigator and witness must be credible.
Credibility refers to the trustworthiness of testimony, based on competence of the witness and probability that it is true. It can also be defined as someone’s reputation for truthfulness.
Credibility of testimony is typically corroborated by other validating evidence but credibility is often a subjective determination to be made by the trier of fact (judge or jury).
Generally speaking, the rules of evidence bars character witnesses from testifying the reputation for truthfulness or untruthfulness unless such reputation of being truthful or otherwise is called into question.
The court will apply reasonable control over the mode and order of interrogating witnesses and presenting evidence in order to make the interrogation and presentation helpful for the ascertainment of the truth, avoid time wasting and protect the witnesses from harassment or undeserved embarrassment.
The process of direct examination serves to adduce evidence from witnesses in the court of law. The witness is directly questioned by the party whom called him or her in the trial. It is usually done to bring out supportive facts and satisfy the element of part’s claim or defense.
A witness who has already testified may be questioned in detail on their statement of facts, perceptions, and motives by the opposition in a trial in a court of law in order to verify or discredit the witness's testimony, knowledge, or credibility.
In order to rehabilitate a witness, the advocate is restricted to using the same techniques used by the opponent to impeach the witness. That is, if the opponent impeached via bias, then rehabilitation is confined to cancel out the claim of bias. If the opponent brought in a rebuttal witness who testified to the character of principal witness as that of a liar, rehabilitation is limited to a character witness who testifies principal witness is a truthful person.
Witness impeachment, in the law of evidence, is the process of calling into question the credibility of an individual who is testifying in a trial. There are numerous ways through which a witness can properly be impeached properly. Some other ways are prohibited normally and are allowed to be used under special circumstances.