Bijou Blues

 

Charge: violation of Dyer Act (interstate transportation of stolen vehicle). The principal prosecution witness, W, testifies that on June 1 D accosted him in Philadelphia, stole his car, and absconded across the Delaware River Bridge into Camden, New Jersey.

The cross-examination of W is as follows:

Q: Where did you have supper June 1?

A: The Philadelphia Hoagie House.

Q: What did you do after dinner?

A: Went to the movies.

Q: Where?

A: The Bijou.

Q: What did you see?

A: Aladdin.

As part of its case-in-chief, D calls M, the manager of the Bijou, to testify that on June 1 A River Runs Through It was playing at the Bijou. On the prosecution's objection, what ruling and why? Is M's testimony relevant to impeach W's credibility? What sort of impeachment is M's testimony? What considerations are important in deciding whether to sustain or overrule the objection? What is the appropriate standard of "collateralness'' in deciding whether extrinsic impeachment evidence is admissible? Can any workable standard be articulated? Should there be any limit on the use of extrinsic impeachment evidence?

In Attorney-General v. Hitchcock, 1 Exch. 91, 99 (Eng. 1847), Chief Baron Pollock laid down the rule as follows:

If the answer of a witness is [about] a matter which you would be allowed on your part to prove in evidence--if it have such a connection with the issue, that you would be allowed to give it in evidence--then it is a matter on which you may contradict him [with extrinsic evidence].

Is this a sound rule for determining when contradiction by extrinsic evidence should be allowed? Is it workable?



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