Rule 607

Who May Impeach

The credibility of a witness may be attacked by any party, including the party calling the witness.

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Note (Federal Judicial Center)

The rule enacted by the Congress is the rule prescribed by the Supreme Court without change.

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Gender-neutralizing amendments were made to this rule in 1987.

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Advisory Committee’s Note

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.

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