Rule 613 – Witness’s Prior Statement

(a) Showing or Disclosing the Statement During Examination. When examining a witness about the witness’s prior statement, a party need not show it or disclose its contents to the witness. But the party must, on request, show it or disclose its contents to an adverse party’s attorney.

(b) Extrinsic Evidence of a Prior Inconsistent Statement. Extrinsic evidence of a witness’s prior inconsistent statement is admissible only if the witness is given an opportunity to explain or deny the statement and an adverse party is given an opportunity to examine the witness about it, or if justice so requires. This subdivision (b) does not apply to an opposing party’s statement under Rule 801(d)(2).

Summary and Explanation

Federal Rule of Evidence 613 deals with the examination of witnesses regarding prior statements they have made, focusing on the process of addressing inconsistencies or contradictions. Here’s a summary and explanation:

  1. Witness’s Prior Statement: The rule allows for the questioning of a witness about a prior statement they made, which may be inconsistent with their current testimony. This is often used to challenge the witness’s credibility.
  2. No Need for Prior Disclosure: Unlike some rules that require a prior statement to be disclosed to the witness before the trial, Rule 613 does not require that the statement be shown or its contents disclosed to the witness in advance.
  3. Extrinsic Evidence of a Prior Inconsistent Statement: If a witness denies having made the prior statement or does not clearly admit it, the party questioning the witness can introduce extrinsic evidence (evidence other than the witness’s current testimony) to prove the statement was made. However, this is subject to certain limitations, especially if the statement pertains to a collateral matter not central to the case.
  4. Opportunity to Explain or Deny: The rule also specifies that the opposing party must have an opportunity to question the witness about the statement or have the witness explain it, either at that time or later.
  5. Bolstering Witness Credibility: The rule generally prohibits using a prior consistent statement to bolster a witness’s credibility unless it is used to rebut a charge of recent fabrication or improper influence or motive.

Rule 613 is a critical tool in legal proceedings for testing the reliability and consistency of witness testimony. It allows attorneys to confront witnesses with their prior statements to explore possible inconsistencies, thereby aiding in the evaluation of their credibility.


(Pub. L. 93–595, §1, Jan. 2, 1975, 88 Stat. 1936; Mar. 2, 1987, eff. Oct. 1, 1987; Apr. 25, 1988, eff. Nov. 1, 1988; Apr. 26, 2011, eff. Dec. 1, 2011.)

Notes of Advisory Committee on Proposed Rules

Subdivision (a). The Queen’s Case, 2 Br. & B. 284, 129 Eng. Rep. 976 (1820), laid down the requirement that a cross-examiner, prior to questioning the witness about his own prior statement in writing, must first show it to the witness. Abolished by statute in the country of its origin, the requirement nevertheless gained currency in the United States. The rule abolishes this useless impediment, to cross-examination. Ladd, Some Observations on Credibility: Impeachment of Witnesses, 52 Cornell L.Q. 239, 246–247 (1967); McCormick §28; 4 Wigmore §§1259–1260. Both oral and written statements are included.

The provision for disclosure to counsel is designed to protect against unwarranted insinuations that a statement has been made when the fact is to the contrary.

The rule does not defeat the application of Rule 1002 relating to production of the original when the contents of a writing are sought to be proved. Nor does it defeat the application of Rule 26(b)(3) of the Rules of Civil Procedure, as revised, entitling a person on request to a copy of his own statement, though the operation of the latter may be suspended temporarily.

Subdivision (b). The familiar foundation requirement that an impeaching statement first be shown to the witness before it can be proved by extrinsic evidence is preserved but with some modifications. See Ladd, Some Observations on Credibility: Impeachment of Witnesses, 52 Cornell L.Q. 239, 247 (1967). The traditional insistence that the attention of the witness be directed to the statement on cross-examination is relaxed in favor of simply providing the witness an opportunity to explain and the opposite party an opportunity to examine on the statement, with no specification of any particular time or sequence. Under this procedure, several collusive witnesses can be examined before disclosure of a joint prior inconsistent statement. See Comment to California Evidence Code §770. Also, dangers of oversight are reduced.

See McCormick §37, p. 68.

In order to allow for such eventualities as the witness becoming unavailable by the time the statement is discovered, a measure of discretion is conferred upon the judge. Similar provisions are found in California Evidence Code §770 and New Jersey Evidence Rule 22(b).

Under principles of expression unius the rule does not apply to impeachment by evidence of prior inconsistent conduct. The use of inconsistent statements to impeach a hearsay declaration is treated in Rule 806.

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1987 Amendment

The amendments are technical. No substantive change is intended.

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1988 Amendment

The amendment is technical. No substantive change is intended.

Committee Notes on Rules—2011 Amendment

The language of Rule 613 has been amended as part of the restyling of the Evidence Rules to make them more easily understood and to make style and terminology consistent throughout the rules. These changes are intended to be stylistic only. There is no intent to change any result in any ruling on evidence admissibility.

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