Rule 607: Who may impeach?

Article VI. Witnesses


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

Advisory Commission Comments.

The rule would abolish Tennessee's common law prohibition against impeaching one's own witness —the voucher rule. The present rule finds expression in King v. State, 187 Tenn. 431, 215 S.W.2d 813 (1948); Record v. Chickasaw Cooperage Co., 108 Tenn. 657, 69 S.W. 334 (1902).

The Commission believed that requiring a lawyer calling a witness to vouch for the witness's credibility too often unfairly restricts proof. Obviously there is no choice over who witnesses facts. In some instances, rigid enforcement of the voucher rule has caused Constitutional error. See Chambers v. Mississippi, 410 U.S. 284, 93 S. Ct. 1038, 35 L. Ed. 2d 297 (1973).

 See Rule 611 for the mode and order of interrogation.

 Advisory Commission Comments [2000].

Decisional law prohibits a lawyer from calling a witness —knowing the testimony will be adverse to the lawyer's position —solely to impeach that witness by an inconsistent statement. See the June 1999 issue of the Tennessee Bar Journal at page 23 and Cohen et alia, Tennessee Law of Evidence (3d ed.) at § 613.1.

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