“[T]he exposure of a witness’ motivation in testifying is a proper and important function of the Constitutionally protected right of cross-examination.” Olden v. Kentucky, 488 U.S. 227, 109 S.Ct. 480, 102 L.Ed.2d 513 (1988).

The magnitude of the right permits inquiry into otherwise inaccessible matters; Record of offenses committed while still a juvenile to show motive to testify adversely, Davis v. Alaska, 415

U.S. 308, 315-316 (1974), an alleged rape victim’s present cohabitation to show her motive to fabricate story of rape, Olden v. Kentucky, 488 U.S. 227, 109 S. Ct. 480, 102 L.Ed.2d 513 (1988).

Also, use of a videotape interview with a child witness may be used to impeach the testimony of a social worker about what occurred during that interview. Hall v. State, 764 S.W.2d 19 (Tex.App. Amarillo, 1988).


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

U.S. v. Hagenstab, 575 F.2d 1035 (2d Cir. 1978);

U.S. v. Craig, 573 F.2d 513 (7th Cir. 1978).

However, the prosecution may not use a witness’ prior inconsistent statement under the guise of impeachment for the primary purpose of getting otherwise inadmissible evidence before the jury. U.S. v. Miller, 664 F.2d 94, 97 (5th Cir. 1981), cert. denied, 459 U.S. 854 (1982) (emphasis added).

And while the government may call a witness it knows may be hostile and impeach his credibility, it may not call a witness it knows to be hostile for the primary purpose of eliciting otherwise inadmissible impeachment testimony. U.S. v. Hogan, 763 F.2d 697, 702 (5th Cir. 1985), reh’g denied in part, 771 F.2d 82 (5th Cir. 1985).

Rule 611(c) restricts “leading questions” to cross-examination unless “necessary to develop” the witness’ testimony, “a hostile witness, an adverse party, or witness identified with an adverse party.”


It is often helpful to expose the jury to whom the Government has chosen as its client in the case. Every witness places his character for truthfulness in issue and counsel should seek out witnesses who can assist the jury in determining whether the witness under oath is worthy of their belief. One may support a witness once that witness’ character has been attacked. U.S. v. Cosentino, 844 F.2d 30 (2d Cir. 1988) (noting door opened to admit cooperation agreement).

But one may not support his or her own witness’ character until it is attacked. U.S. v. Fernandez, 829 F.2d 363 (2nd Cir. 1987) (eliciting vacillating testimony from a witness on cross does not attack that witness’ credibility thus the same may not be supported on redirect).

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