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Impeachment by Prior Inconsistent Statement - Liar Liar Pants on Fire

Letter I - Inconsistent Statement 

Liar Liar Pants on Fire.

Most of the witnesses who take the stand on direct or cross examination have made a prior statement. They have either spoken to the police or they have given a deposition or even better they have previously testified, under oath, at a prior hearing (a motion to suppress or a preliminarily hearing) and the lawyer should have a transcript of that testimony in front of him while the witness is currently on the stand. If the witness deviates from her prior testimony: if she testifies inconsistently then a prepared lawyer will go for the jugular.

The purpose is to discredit the witness. If the witness gave one answer (at a different hearing or deposition) and a different answer today then the witness is either lying or at the very least she is confused and her memory is inaccurate and cannot be relied upon. Either way we don't want to hang the outcome of the defendant's life or liberty on the faulty, inaccurate or dishonest testimony of this witness.

At a trial today the witness testifies that the getaway car she saw was a blue Yukon. But at a prior hearing she testified, under oath that it was a brown Explorer 

Hurdles to Jump Over:

Lawyer: (Q): Slides glasses down the bridge of his nose and peers over the rims, cocking one eyebrow. Voice dripping with disbelief "Do you remember testifying at a motion to suppress on January 13, 2015?"

Witness (A) "Yes."

Lawyer (Q) "Did you tell the truth that day?"

Witness (A) "Yes, I did." Witness shifts uncomfortably in witness chair.

Lawyer (Q) Collecting self to appear professional, but still a slow disbelieving shake of the head, "Is it fair to say that your memory was more accurate back then, one month after you witnessed the crime than it is today over a year after the incident?"

Witness (A) Yes ... " Rakes a jerking hand through her hair. "I mean, I don't know."  Taking a deep breath to calm self and biting nails. "I'm still telling the truth today." 

Lawyer: (Q) Your honor, May I approach the witness

Judge: So ordered.

Lawyer approaches the witness with the portion of the hearing he wants the witness to read. Do you see the highlighted area. In your original testimony, given only one week after you witnessed the crime, you said the vehicle you observed speeding away from the scene of the crime was a blue Yukon - SUV and you stated you were one hundred percent positive.

The lawyer would then stop. He's made his point. This witness is not credible and the lawyer can then use this point in his closing argument. 

The lawyer has impeached the witness by using a prior inconsistent statement given by the witness.

This information is for the sole purpose of the A to Z Blogging Challenge. It is not intended for legal purposes and it is in no way intended as legal advice.

If you want to see a non- dramatic, non television version of how impeachment with prior inconsistent statements in done, I found a very short clip on youtube. It's only about a one minute clip.

I don't know about you, but I'm so glad that I wrote my posts prior to April 1st, so I can spend my time visiting the other participants in this year's A to Z Blogging Challenge.

1 comment:

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