Brown v. State

34 Ariz. 150, 268 P. 618 (1928)

 

RULE:


The rule that allows a party to impeach or contradict a hostile witness whose testimony has surprised him was not invented for the purpose of affording him a way of getting immaterial or collateral matters before the jury, but to protect him against unexpected statements by such hostile witness concerning the real issues. 

FACTS:

William Brown was convicted of robbing one Helen Schaffer. He appeals from the sentence and judgment of conviction. He assigned as error the ruling of the trial court refusing to permit him to introduce evidence to contradict his own witness. As a part of his case defendant then called Anderson and asked the impeaching questions, and the answers of the witness were evidently not what he wanted or expected. He then offered to prove that Anderson had previously stated to his (Brown's) attorney and another a different story than the one testified to on the trial. The offer was refused, the court stating as a reason therefor: "I cannot permit you to impeach your witness." 

ISSUE:

Can defendant impeach his own witness as to matters already before a criminal trial jury?

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

The purpose for which Anderson was called by defendant was collateral to the main issue, and under the general rule he was bound by the witness' answers. If he could impeach this witness by others, he could in turn impeach such "others" should they fail him, and this all on collateral matters.  The rule that allows a party to impeach or contradict a hostile witness whose testimony has surprised him was not invented for the purpose of affording him a way of getting immaterial or collateral matters before the jury, but to protect him against unexpected statements by such hostile witness concerning the real issues.

Click here to view the full text case and earn your Daily Research Points.