Subpart B -- Rules of Evidence

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Source: 55 FR 13219, Apr. 9, 1990, unless otherwise noted.


§ 18.601 General rule of competency.

Every person is competent to be a witness except as otherwise provided in these rules. However with respect to an element of a claim or defense as to which State law supplies the rule of decision, the competency of a witness shall be determined in accordance with State law.

§ 18.602 Lack of personal knowledge.

A witness may not testify to a matter unless evidence is introduced sufficient to support a finding that the witness has personal knowledge of the matter. Evidence to prove personal knowledge may, but need not, consist of the witness' own testimony. This rule is subject to the provisions of § 18.703, relating to opinion testimony by expert witnesses.

§ 18.603 Oath or affirmation.

Before testifying, every witness shall be required to declare that the witness will testify truthfully, by oath or affirmation administered in a form calculated to awaken the witness' conscience and impress the witness' mind with the duty to do so.

§ 18.604 Interpreters.

An interpreter is subject to the provisions of these rules relating to qualification as an expert and the administration of an oath or affirmation to make a true translation.

§ 18.605 Competency of judge as witness.

The judge presiding at the hearing may not testify in that hearing as a witness. No objection need be made in order to preserve the point.

§ 18.606 [Reserved]

§ 18.607 Who may impeach.

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

§ 18.608 Evidence of character and conduct of witness.

(a) Opinion and reputation evidence of character . The credibility of a witness may be attacked or supported by evidence in the form of opinion or reputation, but subject to these limitations:

(1) The evidence may refer only to character for truthfulness or untruthfulness, and

(2) Evidence of truthful character is admissible only after the character of the witness for truthfulness has been attacked by opinion or reputation evidence or otherwise.

(b) Specific instances of conduct. Specific instances of the conduct of a witness, for the purpose of attacking or supporting the witness' credibility, other than conviction of crime as provided in § 18.609, may not be proved by extrinsic evidence. They may, however, in the discretion of the judge, if probative of truthfulness or untruthfulness, be inquired into on cross-examination of the witness, concerning the witness' character for truthfulness or untruthfulness, or concerning the character for truthfulness or untruthfulness of another witness as to which character the witness being cross-examined has testified.

The giving of testimony by any witness does not operate as a waiver of the witness' privilege against self-incrimination when examined with respect to matters which relate only to credibility.

§ 18.609 Impeachment by evidence of conviction of crime.

(a) General rule. For the purpose of attacking the credibility of a witness, evidence that the witness has been convicted of a crime shall be admitted if the crime was punishable by death or imprisonment in excess of one year under the law under which the witness was convicted, or involved dishonesty or false statement, regardless of the punishment.

(b) Time limit. Evidence of a conviction under this rule is not admissible if a period of more than ten years has elapsed since the date of the conviction or of the release of the witness from the confinement imposed for that conviction, whichever is the later date.

(c) Effect of pardon, annulment, or certificate of rehabilitation. Evidence of a conviction is not admissible under this rule if:

(1) The conviction has been the subject of a pardon, annulment, certificate of rehabilitation, or other equivalent procedure based on a finding of the rehabilitation of the person convicted, and that person has not been convicted of a subsequent crime which was punishable by death or imprisonment in excess of one year, or

(2) The conviction has been the subject of a pardon, annulment, or other equivalent procedure based on a finding of innocence.

(d) Juvenile adjudications. Evidence of juvenile adjudications is not admissible under this rule.

(e) Pendency of appeal. The pendency of an appeal therefrom does not render evidence of a conviction inadmissible. Evidence of the pendency of an appeal is admissible.

[55 FR 13219, Apr. 9, 1990; 55 FR 14033, Apr. 13, 1990]

§ 18.610 Religious beliefs or opinions.

Evidence of the beliefs or opinions of a witness on matters of religion is not admissible for the purpose of showing that by reason of their nature the witness' credibility is impaired or enhanced.

§ 18.611 Mode and order of interrogation and presentation.

(a) Control by judge. The judge shall exercise reasonable control over the mode and order of interrogating witnesses and presenting evidence so as to:

(1) Make the interrogation and presentation effective for the ascertainment of the truth,

(2) Avoid needless consumption of time, and

(3) Protect witnesses from harassment or undue embarrassment.

(b) Scope of cross-examination. Cross-examination should be limited to the subject matter of the direct examination and matters affecting the credibility of the witness. The judge may, in the exercise of discretion, permit inquiry into additional matters as if on direct examination.

(c) Leading questions. Leading questions should not be used on the direct examination of a witness except as may be necessary to develop the witness' testimony. Ordinarily leading questions should be permitted on cross-examination. When a party calls a hostile witness, an adverse party, or a witness identified with an adverse party, interrogation may be by leading questions.

§ 18.612 Writing used to refresh memory.

If a witness uses a writing to refresh memory for the purpose of testifying, either while testifying, or before testifying if the judge in the judge's discretion determines it is necessary in the interest of justice, an adverse party is entitled to have the writing produced at the hearing, to inspect it, to cross-examine the witness thereon, and to introduce in evidence those portions which relate to the testimony of the witness. If it is claimed that the writing contains matters not related to the subject matter of the testimony the judge shall examine the writing in camera, excise any portion not so related, and order delivery of the remainder to the party entitled thereto. Any portion withheld over objections shall be preserved and made available in the event of review. If a writing is not produced or delivered pursuant to order under this rule, the judge shall make any order justice requires.

§ 18.613 Prior statements of witnesses.

(a) Examining witness concerning prior statement. In examining a witness concerning a prior statement made by the witness, whether written or not, the statement need not be shown nor its contents disclosed to the witness at that time, but on request the same shall be shown or disclosed to opposing counsel.

(b) Extrinsic evidence of prior inconsistent statement of witness. Extrinsic evidence of a prior inconsistent statement by a witness is not admissible unless the witness is afforded an opportunity to explain or deny the same and the opposite party is afforded an opportunity to interrogate the witness thereon, or the interests of justice otherwise require. This provision does not apply to admissions of a party-opponent as defined in § 18.801(d)(2).

§ 18.614 Calling and interrogation of witnesses by judge.

(a) Calling by the judge. The judge may, on the judge's own motion or at the suggestion of a party, call witnesses, and all parties are entitled to cross-examine witnesses thus called.

(b) Interrogation by the judge. The judge may interrogate witnesses, whether called by the judge or by a party.

(c) Objections. Objections to the calling of witnesses by the judge or to interrogation by the judge must be timely.

§ 18.615 Exclusion of witnesses.

At the request of a party the judge shall order witnesses excluded so that they cannot hear the testimony of other witnesses, and the judge may make the order of the judge's own motion. This rule does not authorize exclusion of a party who is a natural person, or an officer or employee of a party which is not a natural person designated as its representative by its attorney, or a person whose presence is shown by a party to be essential to the presentation of the party's cause.

Opinions and Expert Testimony

§ 18.701 Opinion testimony by lay witnesses.

If the witness is not testifying as an expert, the witness' testimony in the form of opinions or inferences is limited to those opinions or inferences which are rationally based on the perception of the witness and helpful to a clear understanding of the witness' testimony or the determination of a fact in issue.

§ 18.702 Testimony by experts.

If scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge will assist the judge as trier of fact to understand the evidence or to determine a fact in issue, a witness qualified as an expert by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education, may testify thereto in the form of an opinion or otherwise.

§ 18.703 Bases of opinion testimony by experts.

The facts or data in the particular case upon which an expert bases an opinion or inference may be those perceived by or made known to the expert at or before the hearing. If of a type reasonably relied upon by experts in the particular field in forming opinions or inferences upon the subject, the facts or data need not be admissible in evidence.

§ 18.704 Opinion on ultimate issue.

Testimony in the form of an opinion or inference otherwise admissible is not objectionable because it embraces an ultimate issue to be decided by the judge as trier of fact.

§ 18.705 Disclosure of facts or data underlying expert opinion.

The expert may testify in terms of opinion or inference and give reasons therefor without prior disclosure of the underlying facts or data, unless the judge requires otherwise. The expert may in any event be required to disclose the underlying facts or data on cross-examination.

§ 18.706 Judge appointed experts.

(a) Appointment . The judge may on the judge's own motion or on the motion of any party enter an order to show cause why expert witnesses should not be appointed, and may request the parties to submit nominations. The judge may appoint any expert witnesses agreed upon by the parties, and may appoint expert witnesses of the judge's own selection. An expert witness shall not be appointed by the judge unless the witness consents to act. A witness so appointed shall be informed of the witness' duties by the judge in writing, a copy of which shall be filed with the clerk, or at a conference in which the parties shall have an opportunity to participate. A witness so appointed shall advise the parties of the witness' findings, if any; the witness' deposition may be taken by any party; and the witness may be called to testify by the judge or any party. The witness shall be subject to cross-examination by each party, including a party calling the witness.

(b) Compensation . Expert witnesses so appointed are entitled to reasonable compensation in whatever sum the judge may allow. The compensation thus fixed is payable from funds which may be provided by law in hearings involving just compensation under the fifth amendment. In other hearings the compensation shall be paid by the parties in such proportion and at such time as the judge directs, and thereafter charged in like manner as other costs.

(c) Parties' experts of own selection. Nothing in this rule limits the parties in calling expert witnesses of their own selection.

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