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Mribe necessite of Resipted to "the wife by her hi
to marry one of the defendants; and, in another count, for conspiring to take her away by force, being an heiress, and to marry her to one of the defendants; the learned Baron was of opinion that, even assuming the young lady to be at the time of the trial the lawful wife of one of the defendants, she was a competent witness for the prosecution, although there was no evidence to
support that part of the indictment which charged force.(1) Indictment for The wife is also admitted as a witness against her husband, ex personal vio- necessitate, in a prosecution of him for offences against her perlence.
son.(m) So her dying declarations are admissible against him in the case of murder. (n) In an indictment of William Whitehouse at Stafford, upon Lord Ellenborough's act, for shooting at his wife, she was admitted as a witness for the prosecution by Mr. Baron Garrow, after consulting Holroyd, J., upon the ground of the necessity of the case ; and Mr. J. Holroyd sent Mr. B. Garrow the case of Rex v. Jagger, Yorkshire Assizes, 1797, where the husband had attempted to poison his wife with a cake in which arsenic was introduced, and the wife was admitted to prove the fact of the cake having been given her by her husband, and Mr. J. Rooke afterwards delivered the opinion of the twelve Judges that the evidence had been rightly admitted. Mr. J. Holroyd, however, said, he thought the wife could only be admitted to prove facts which could not be proved by any other witness. So on an indictment against a man for beating his wife, she was held competent.(0) And the wife is always permitted to swear the peace against her husband.(p) And her affidavit has been permitted to be read on an application to the Court of King's Bench for an information against the husband for an attempt to take her away by force after articles of separation; and it would be strange to permit her to be a witness to ground a prosecution, and not afterwards to be a witness at the trial.(9) And it seems to be now settled, that in all cases of personal injuries committed by the husband and wife against each other, the injured party is
an admissible witness against the other.(r) Not compe. But this rule seems to be confined to cases where the charge aftent in cases, fects the liberty or the person of the wife. Thus it has been decided, where there is no personal
that in an indictment for a conspiracy in procuring a lady, then a injury.
ward in Chancery, to marry, the wife was not a good witness for one of the co-defendants, if her evidence might enure to the ac. quittal of her husband ;(s) and since she could not be admitted in favour of her husband, it follows necessarily that she could not be a witness against him.(t) So on an indictment against the
(1) See the trial, published by Mur- v. Azire, 1 Stra. 633. Bull. N. P. 287. ray, p. 257.
(p) Bull. N. P. 287. (m) Lord Audley's case, i St. Tr. (9) Lady Lawley's case, ibid. 393. This case has been denied to be (r) i East. P. c. c. 11. s. 5. p. 455. law, but is now established by the In the Wakefields' case, p. 257, Hulhighest authorities. Hale P. C. 301. lock, B., said, “ I take it, it is quite 2 Hawk. P. C. c. 46. s. 77. Bull. N. P. “ clear now, that a wife is a compe287. Rex v. Serjeant, i Ry, & Mood. ,“ tent witness against her husband in 354.
“ respect of any charge which affects
(8) Rex v. Locker, 5 Esp. 107.
wife of W. S. and others, for a conspiracy in procuring W.S. to marry, Abbott, C. J., refused to admit W. S. as a witness in support of the prosecution.(u)
In the case of high treason it has been said, that a wife shall High treason. be admitted against her hushand, because the tie of allegiance is more obligatory than any other :(v) but there are high authorities to the contrary.(w) Whether a woman who has cohabited with a man as his wife, Competency
of a woman but who is ready to swear she is not married to him, will be al- living as a lowed to give evidence on the part of the man, has been consi- wife. dered a doubtful question.(r) On a trial for forgery, Lord Kenyon refused to admit a woman as witness for the prisoner, whom in the course of the trial he had frequently alluded to as his wife, but afterwards, on hearing an objection taken to her competency, denied that they were in fact married.(y) In the case of Rex v. Perry, Lord Chief Justice Gibbs stated, A wife com
petent against that he could see no distinction between admitting a wife for and is so for her against her husband. " The King v. Perry,” said Lord Chief husband. Justice Abbott, in Rex v. Serjeant,(35) “was much talked about at “ the time, and Chief Justice Gibbs expressed his surprise that “ any doubt should have been entertained, that a wife was in all “ cases a competent witness for her husband, when admissible “ against him.” Anciently the rule was, that if there were any objection to the Object
competency; competency of a witness, he should be examined on the voire when to be dire, (a) and it was too late after he was sworn in chief. (6) But taken ; for the convenience of the Court, and the furtherance of justice, (as the incompetency may not at first be suspected,) the rule is now so far relaxed, that if it is discovered at any part of the trial, that a witness is incompetent, his evidence will be struck out.(c) With
(u) Rex v. Serjeant, i Ry. & Mood. 352. But it is not necessary, it should seem, that there should be force employed, in order to make the husband or wife competent. In the case of the Wakefields', before mentioned, for ab. duction, Hullock, B., was of that opi. nion, and be mentioned that he had seen a report of the case of Rex v. Perry, tried before Gibbs, C. J., as recorder of Bristol, where the wife was held competent, and that no force was used in the abduction in that case.
(v) Bull. N. P. 286. Gilb. Ev. 120. (w) I Hale P. C. 301. 1 Brown. 47.
(3) Campbell v. Twemlow, 1 Price 81. A case not yet reported has been recently decided in the Common Pleas, in the affirmative.
(y) Per Richards, B., 1 Price 83. (2) I Ry. & Mood. 354.
(a) The voire dire is, when it is prayed upon a trial at law, that a witness may (previously to his giving evidence in the cause) be sworn io speak the truth, (in old French voire
dire,) whether he shall lose or get by
(0) Turner v. Pearte, 1 T.R. 719.
(c) Turner v. Pearte, 1 T.R. 720. Howell v. Lock, 2 Campb. 15. Stone v. Blackburn, 1 Esp. 37. Perigal v. Nicholson, Wightw. 64. But where upon a trial for high treason it appeared, after a witness had been examined for the Crown, without objection on the part of the prisoner, that he had been mis-described in the list of witnesses, which is required by the statute 7 Aon. c. 21. s. 14., to be given to the prisoner previous to his trial, the Court would not permit the evidence of the witness to be struck out; but said, the objection ought to have been taken in the first instance; otherwise, a party might take the chance of getting evidence which he liked, or if he disliked the testimony, he might then get rid of it on the ground of misdescription. Rex v. Watson, 2 Stark. N. P. C. 158. And upon this ground, Mr. Starkie
respect, however, to the power of questioning a witness for the purpose of discovering his incompetency, there is still a material difference, which will presently be pointed out, between an examination on the voire dire, and one after the witness has been
sworn in chief. : how to be The party against whom a witness is called, may examine him supported; respecting his interest on the voire dire, or may call another wit
ness, and produce other evidence in support of the objectiov.(d) The old rule is said to have been, (e) that if the witness were examined by the opposite party as to the fact of the objection, and denied it upon his oath, the party would not be at liberty to call afterwards another witness to prove it, in order to repel him from giving evidence, unless the other side acquiesced. But the modern and more convenient practice seems to be, that if the fact of incompetency is satisfactorily proved, the witness will be incompetent, although he may have ventured to deny it on the voire dire. And if the opposite party raise the objection of in
terest by independent evidence, and without putting a question to how repelled. the witness, then the party who has called him cannot be allowed
to put a question to him in order to repel the objection. (f) Mode of exa- An examination on the voire dire is allowed to be conducted mination on
without strict regard to the general rule of evidence, which revoire dire.
quires the best possible proof of a fact, and admits no other. Thus
(d) Per Hullock, B., Wakefield's where the witness was allowed to recase, p. 157.
move an objection of interest raised (e) "By Lord Hardwicke in Lord on the voire dire by his own stateLovat's case, 9 St. Tr. 647. See also ment that he had become a bankthe observations of Parker, C. J., in rupt, and his estate had been assigned. Rex v. Muscot, 10 Mod. 193., in See also Rex v. Gisburn, 15 East. 57. which case it was asserted, but over So where a bankrupt called as a witruled, that in criminal cases there ness stated on the voire dire that he could be no examination on the voire had obtained his certificate and re
leased his assignees, Park, J., held (f) i Phil. Ev. 123.
him competent, without production (g) Howell v. Locke, 2 Campb. 15. of the release. Carlisle v. Eady, I
(h) But if the witness produces the Carr. & P. 234. See also Bunter v. instrument on which the objection to Warre, 1 B. & C. 689. his competency rests, it ought to be
on re-examination answered that he had released all his interest, this was held by Lord Ellenborough to remove the objection.(k)
But it is only on the voire dire that the general rules of evidence are thus relaxed, for although objections to the competency of a witness may now be made at any stage of the trial, yet they are not to be attended with the privileges of an examination upon the voire dire. Thus a witness cannot be cross-examined, for the purpose of shewing him incompetent, as to what interest he takes under a will, for the will itself should be produced. (l) So where a party, who calls a witness, attempts to remove the objection by other independent proof, and not on the voire dire, he will then be subject to all the general rules of evidence. Thus where an objection, on the ground of interest, had been raised by the defendant to a witness of the plaintiff, who called another to prove that the former witness had been released, it was held that he could not be allowed to speak of the contents of the release, but the release itself, if not lost or destroyed, must be produced.(m) So where the objection is not raised on the voire dire, but appears in evidence in any other manner, the other party in answering it is bound by the usual rules of evidence.(n)
It is no exception against a person giving evidence for or against Judge or juror a prisoner, that he is one of the judges or jurors who is to try competent. him. (0) And in the case of Hacker, two of the persons in the commission for the trial, came off from the bench, and were sworn, and gave evidence, and did go up to the bench again during his trial.(p)
Of Privileged Communications, and other Matters which a
Witness may not Disclose.
A witness when free from all the preceding objections to his Privileged competency, is to be sworn to speak the truth, the whole truth, communicaand nothing but the truth. But this form of oath, absolute as it seems, must be taken with an implied reservation, that the witness is not to disclose any facts within his knowledge, which, by the law of the land, founded on considerations of justice, and of public policy, he is forbidden to make known. Of such a nature are professional communications between a client and his attorney, solicitor, or counsel, and matters connected with the government of the country.(9)
(K) Ingram v. Dade, MS. 1 Phil. Ev. (0) 2 Hawk. P. C. c. 46. s. 83. 124.
(p) Ibid. (1) Howell v. Lock, 2 Campb, 14. (9) It seems, however, to have once
(m) Corking v. Jarrard, 1 Campb. been thought necessary to vary the 37.
form of the oath on an occasion of (n) Botham v. Swingler, 1 Esp. N. this sort. In the case of Spark v. P. C. 165, by Lord Kenyon.
Middleton, 12 Vin. Abr. Ev. B. a. 4. p. VOL. II.
ons at any periool or otherwided.(r) The pr of the
Between client The law attaches so sacred an inviolability to communications and attorney,
money, between a client and his legal advisers, that it will neither oblige or counsel.
nor suffer persons so employed to reveal any facts confidentially disclosed to them at any period of time, neither after their employment has ceased by dismissal or otherwise, nor after the cause in which they were engaged is entirely concluded.(r) The privilege of not being examined on such subjects is the privilege of the client, and not of the attorney or counsel;(s) and it never ceases. “ It is not sufficient,” said Mr. J. Buller,(t) “ to say that the cause " is at an end: the mouth of such a person is shut for ever.” And it makes no difference that the client is not in any shape party to
the cause before the Court.(u) Rule confined The privilege is strictly confined to communications made to to legal ad
counsel, solicitors, and attorneys.(x) No other, however convisers.
fidential, or whatever be the relation or employment of the party entrusted, are privileged. Therefore all other professional persons, whether physicians, surgeons, or clergymen, are bound to disclose the matters confided to them.(y) Thus where the prisoner being a Papist, had made a confession before a Protestant clergyman of the crime for which he was indicted, that confession was permitted by Buller, J., to be given in evidence on the trial, and the prisoner was convicted and executed.(x) So a steward, servant, or private friend, is bound to disclose a communication, however confi. dential.(a) And in a case where a clerk to the commissioners of the property-tax was required to prove the defendant to be a collector, and he objected, because he had taken an oath of office, not to disclose what he should learn as clerk concerning the propertytax, except with the consent of the commissioners, or by force of an act of parliament, it was held that he was bound to give his testimony; and that the evidence which a witness was called
upon to give in a court of justice, was to be considered as an imArbitrator. plied exception in the act.(b) An arbitrator cannot be permitted
to disclose, in an action for a malicious holding to bail, what trans
38. 1 Keb.505, Mr. Aylott having been (8) 10 Mod. 40. Bull. N. P. 284.
proposed, viz. what he knew concern he should have paused before he ad· ing the will in question; whether he mitted such evidence. But the point, knew any thing of his own knowledge. that confessions to clergyınen are not
(r) Lord Say and Seale's case, 10 privileged, has been fully established Mod. 41. Wilson v. Rastall, 4 Term by the recent decision of the twelve Rep. 759. in the judgment of Buller, Judges, on a case reserved. See Gil. J. Sloman v. Herne, 2 Esp. N. P. C. bam's case, post. Chap. II. s. I. 695. Rex v. Withers, 2 Campb. 578. (a) Vaillanto. Dodemead, 2 Atk. 524, Parkhurst v. Lowten, 2 Swanst. 194, Lord Falmouth v. Moss, II Price 455. 921. Richards v. Jackson, 18 Ves. () Lee v. Birrell, 3 Campb. 337.