New Jersey Rules Evidence Rules

THIS DOCUMENT REFLECTS ALL CHANGES THROUGH DECEMBER 15, 2005

 


Rule 601. General Rule of Competency.

    Every person is competent to be a witness unless (a) the judge finds that the proposed witness is incapable of expression concerning the matter so as to be understood by the judge and jury either directly or through interpretation, or (b) the proposed witness is incapable of understanding the duty of a witness to tell the truth, or (c) except as otherwise provided by these rules or by law.


Rule 602. Lack of Personal Knowledge.

    Except as otherwise provided by Rule 703 (bases of opinion testimony by experts), a witness may not testify to a matter unless evidence is introduced sufficient to support a find that the witness has personal knowledge of the matter. Evidence to prove personal knowledge may, but need not, consist of the testimony of that witness.


Rule 603. Oath or Affirmation.

    Before testifying, every witness shall be required to take an oath or make an affirmation or declaration to tell the truth under the penalty provided by law. No witness may be barred from testifying because of religious belief or lack of such belief.


Rule 604. Interpreters.

    The judge shall determine the qualifications of a person testifying as an interpreter. An interpreter shall be subject to all provisions of these rules relating to witnesses and shall take an oath or make an affirmation or declaration to interpret accurately.


Rule 605. Restriction on Judge as Witness.

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


Rule 606. Restriction on Juror as Witness.

    A member of the jury may not testify as a witness before the jury on which the juror is serving.


Rule 607. Credibility and Neutralization

    Except as otherwise provided by Rules 405 and 608, for the purpose of impairing or supporting the credibility of a witness, any party including the party calling the witness may examine the witness and introduce extrinsic evidence relevant to the issue of credibility, except that the party calling a witness may not neutralize the witness' testimony by a prior contradictory statement unless the statement is in a form admissible under Rule 803(a)(1) or the judge finds that the party calling the witness was surprised. A prior consistent statement shall not be admitted to support the credibility of a witness except to rebut an express or implied charge against the witness of recent fabrication or of improper influence or motive and except as otherwise provided by the law of evidence.


Rule 608. Evidence of Character for Truthfulness or Untruthfulness

    The credibility of a witness may be attacked or supported by evidence in the form of opinion or reputation, provided, however, that the evidence relates only to the witness' character for truthfulness or untruthfulness, and provided further that 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. Except as otherwise provided by Rule 609, a trait of character cannot be proved by specific instances of conduct.


Rule 609. Impeachment by Evidence of Conviction of Crime

    For the purpose of affecting the credibility of any witness, the witness' conviction of a crime shall be admitted unless excluded by the judge as remote or for other causes. Such conviction may be proved by examination, production of the record thereof, or by other competent evidence.


Rule 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.


Rule 611. Mode and Order of Interrogation and Presentation.

    (a) Control by Court. The court 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 court 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 his testimony. Ordinarily, leading questions should be permitted on cross-examination. When a party calls an adverse party or a witness identified with an adverse party, or when a witness demonstrates hostility or unresponsiveness, interrogation may be by leading questions, subject to the discretion of the court.


Rule 612. Writing Used to Refresh Memory.

    Except as otherwise provided by law in criminal proceedings, if a witness while testifying uses a writing to refresh the witness' memory for the purpose of testifying, an adverse party is entitled to have the writing produced at the hearing for inspection and use in cross-examining the witness. The adverse party shall also be entitled to introduce in evidence those portions which relate to the testimony of the witness but only for the purpose of impeaching the witness. If it is claimed that the writing contains material not related to the subject of the testimony, the court shall examine the writing in camera and excise any unrelated portions. If the witness has used a writing to refresh the witness' memory before testifying, the court in its discretion and in the interest of justice may accord the adverse party the same right to the writing as that party would have if the writing had been used by the witness while testifying


Rule 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 or its contents disclosed to the witness at that time. Upon request the statement shall be shown or disclosed to opposing counsel.

(b) Extrinsic Evidence of Prior Inconsistent Statement of Witness. Extrinsic evidence of a prior inconsistent statement made by a witness may in the judge's discretion be excluded unless the witness is afforded an opportunity to explain or deny the statement and the opposing party is afforded an opportunity to interrogate on the statement, or the interests of justice otherwise require. This rule doe not apply to admissions of a party opponent as defined in Rule 803(b).


Rule 614. Calling and Interrogation of Witnesses by Judge.

    The judge, in accordance with law and subject to the right of a party to make timely objection, may call a witness and may interrogate any witness.


Rule 615. Sequestration of Witnesses

    At the request of a party or on the court's own motion, the court may, in accordance with law, enter an order sequestering witnesses.


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