Using a Transcript to Impeach a Witness

Using a Transcript to Impeach a Witness

A transcript prepared by a court reporting service can be very important for many reasons, including the ability to use the transcript to impeach a witness at a later hearing or deposition. To be useful for purposes of impeachment, the transcript must be accurate and complete. This is one reason that it is essential to have an excellent court reporting service — like Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting, LLC. — working for you and your Law Firm. If you need court reporting services, call us here at (866) 689-1837. We accept orders via email, phone, and via telefax at (866) 870 – 6032.

Why Impeach an Opposing Witness?

The purpose of impeaching an opposing witness is to undermine the witness’ credibility with the fact-finder — the judge or jury. Logically, the flip side of undermining an opposing witness’ credibility is to bolster and improve the credibility of your own witness. When facts are in heated dispute, witness credibility becomes the difference between winning and losing.

How to Impeach an Witness.

Impeaching a witness is done with transcripts of previous testimony that has been taken before a court reporter and reduced to a transcript. The testimony needs to have been sworn testimony before a court or during a deposition. The transcript can be from a different case than the one being litigated.

Impeachment occurs when the witness said one thing at an earlier hearing/deposition but is now saying the opposite. In a dark light, the possibility of impeachment prevents witnesses from purposely changing their story from hearing to hearing and from deposition to deposition. In a brighter light, impeachment prevents fading memory from causing unnecessary and confusing variations in the factual evidence.

Impeaching a witness flows from the court reporter’s transcript. When the witness is currently testifying, the opposing counsel has the earlier transcript available. When there is a direct contradiction between the current sworn testimony and testimony recorded in the transcript, then on cross-examination, the inconsistency can be brought forward. The questions lay a foundation, and then the relevant portion of the testimony is read aloud. Something like this:

Q. Previously, did you give testimony at … [DATE, TIME, PLACE ]
A. Yes.
Q. You were put under oath before you gave that testimony?
A. Yes.
Q. During that testimony, were you asked this question, and did you give this answer? … reading from the transcript…

Where the fact at issue is important, and the testimony is in direct conflict, the fact-finders begin to doubt which story is the correct one and whether the witness is being truthful. The credibility of a witness can suffer more damage still as opposing counsel expends significant effort to attempt rehabilitation.

The rules and procedures for impeachment are different from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Often, efforts to impeach will be tightly controlled by the Judge. But, wherever the litigation is being prosecuted, the key is the transcript prepared by a trusted and competent court reporter.

Contact Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting Today

For more information, call the experienced court reporters at Elizabeth Gallo Court Reporting. We follow the best practices in order to provide excellent litigation support to our customers. Contact us today to learn about our services and how we can help you.


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