Who May Impeach
The credibility of a witness may be attacked by any party, including the party calling the witness.
Note (Federal Judicial Center)
The rule enacted by the Congress is the rule prescribed by the Supreme Court without change.
Gender-neutralizing amendments were made to this rule in 1987.
Advisory Committees Note
The traditional rule against impeaching ones 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 Ones Own WitnessNew 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.