Restraint In Jewish Law

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Another restraint that Jewish Law and the United States judicial system have on witnesses is a minimal age requirement to serve as a witness. While the Federal Rules do not necessarily speak on the competency of minors as witnesses , many jurisdictions have their own rules regarding the competency of a minor and their testimony. For example, New York allows any person to be a witness in a criminal proceeding, unless the court finds that they are unfit because they do not have sufficient intelligence, due to a mental disease or defect, to justify the reception of his evidence. The rules in New York though, vary concerning the age of people who may testify under oath. In New York, anyone over nine years old is allowed to testify under oath, …show more content…

Comparable to the rule forbidding blind people to serve as witnesses, the age limit in Jewish Law is a Biblical derivation. Derived from Devarim 19:17 while speaking on the matter of witnesses, the Pasuk states: "And the two men will stand." From this, the Rambam explains, it is implied that only “men” may stand as witnesses and not minors. And while the Shulchan Aruch (Chosen Mishpat 35:1) teaches that in order to allow one to serve as a witness it is necessary to ensure that a boy reached puberty, the Rambam says that as long as he is 13 year-old and shows physical maturity in the upper body, like facial hair, he is allowed as a witness. Notably, the Rambam also explains that even if the minor is wise and knowledgeable, he is still not acceptable as a witness until he manifests signs of physical maturity after age 13. (Edut 9:7) So while it is acknowledged in Jewish Law that knowledge and understanding are qualities necessary to serve as a competent witness, the restriction is still based on age because the rule was derived from the …show more content…

This can be done by attacking the reputation of the witness or by testimony in the form of an opinion about the truthfulness of the witness’s character. Further, Rule 609 allows in some cases, evidence of a criminal conviction of the witness to be used to attack their character of truthfulness. For example, evidence that the witness was convicted of a crime punishable by death or imprisonment for more than year, can be used to attack the witness’s creditability. Additionally, evidence of crimen falsi, or a crime that the court can readily determine that the element of that crime were proving a dishonest act or false statement by the witness can be admitted to attack he witnesses. The goal of this is to have the fairest trial by disallowing witnesses who have a propensity to lie and would therefore undermine the trial

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