|Processes » The Contentious Trial » The Ordinary Contentious Trial » Proofs » Witnesses and testimonies|
|Canon 1547.||Proof by means of witnesses is allowed under the direction of the judge in cases of any kind.|
|Canon 1548.||§1. When the judge questions witnesses legitimately, they must tell the truth.
§2. Without prejudice to the prescript of can. 1550, §2, n. 2, the following are exempted from the obligation to respond:
1. clerics regarding what has been made known to them by reason of sacred ministry; civil officials, physicians, midwives, advocates, notaries, and others bound by professional secrecy even by reason of having given advice, regarding those matters subject to this secrecy;
2. those who fear that from their own testimony ill repute, dangerous hardships, or other grave evils will befall them, their spouses, or persons related to them by consanguinity or affinity.
|Processes » The Contentious Trial » The Ordinary Contentious Trial » Proofs » Witnesses and testimonies » Those who can be witnesses|
|Canon 1549.||All persons can be witnesses unless the law expressly excludes them in whole or in part.|
|Canon 1550.||§1. Minors below the fourteenth year of age and those of limited mental capacity are not allowed to give testimony; they can, however, be heard by a decree of the judge which declares such a hearing expedient.
§2. The following are considered incapable:
1. the parties in the case or those who stand for the parties at the trial, the judge and the judge’s assistants, the advocate, and others who assist or have assisted the parties in the same case;
2. priests regarding all matters which they have come to know from sacramental confession even if the penitent seeks their disclosure; moreover, matters heard by anyone and in any way on the occasion of confession cannot be accepted even as an indication of the truth.
|Processes » The Contentious Trial » The Ordinary Contentious Trial » Proofs » Witnesses and testimonies » The introduction and exclusion of witnesses|
|Canon 1551.||The party who has introduced a witness can renounce the examination of that witness; the opposing party, however, can request that the witness be examined nevertheless.|
|Canon 1552.||§1. When proof through witnesses is requested, their names and domicile are to be communicated to the tribunal.
§2. The items of discussion about which questioning of the witnesses is sought are to be presented within the time period set by the judge; otherwise, the request is to be considered as abandoned.
|Canon 1553.||It is for the judge to curb an excessive number of witnesses.|
|Canon 1554.||Before the witnesses are examined, their names are to be communicated to the parties; if in the prudent judgment of the judge, however, that cannot be done without grave difficulty, it is to be done at least before the publication of the testimonies.|
|Canon 1555.||Without prejudice to the prescript of can. 1550, a party can request the exclusion of a witness if a just cause for the exclusion is shown before the questioning of the witness.|
|Canon 1556.||The citation of a witness occurs through a decree of the judge legitimately communicated to the witness.|
|Canon 1557.||A witness who has been cited properly is to appear or to inform the judge of the reason for the absence.|
|Processes » The Contentious Trial » The Ordinary Contentious Trial » Proofs » Witnesses and testimonies » The examination of witnesses|
|Canon 1558.||§1. Witnesses must be examined at the tribunal unless the judge deems otherwise.
§2. Cardinals, patriarchs, bishops, and those who possess a similar favor by civil law are to be heard in the place they select.
§3. The judge is to decide where to hear those for whom it is impossible or difficult to come to the tribunal because of distance, sickness, or some impediment, without prejudice to the prescripts of cann. 1418 and 1469, §2.
|Canon 1559.||The parties cannot be present at the examination of the witnesses unless the judge has decided to admit them, especially when the matter concerns a private good. Their advocates or procurators, however, can be present unless the judge has decided that the examination must proceed in secret due to the circumstances of the matters and persons.|
|Canon 1560.||§1. Each witness must be examined separately.
§2. If witnesses disagree among themselves or with a party in a grave matter, the judge, after having removed discord and scandal insofar as possible, can have those who disagree meet together or confront one another.
|Canon 1561.||The judge, the judge’s delegate, or an auditor examines the witness; the examiner must have the assistance of a notary. Consequently, if the parties, the promoter of justice, the defender of the bond, or the advocates present at the examination have any questions to be put to the witness, they are to propose them not to the witness but to the judge or the one who takes the place of the judge, who is to ask the questions, unless particular law provides otherwise.|
|Canon 1562.||§1. The judge is to call to the attention of the witness the grave obligation to speak the whole truth and only the truth.
§2. The judge is to administer an oath to the witness according to can. 1532; a witness who refuses to take it, however, is to be heard without the oath.
|Canon 1563.||The judge is first of all to establish the identity of the witness, then ask what relationship the witness has with the parties, and, when addressing specific questions to the witness concerning the case, also inquire about the sources of his or her knowledge and the precise time when the witness learned what he or she asserts.|
|Canon 1564.||The questions are to be brief, accommodated to the mental capacity of the person being questioned, not comprised of several points at the same time, not deceitful or deceptive or suggestive of a response, free from any kind of offense, and pertinent to the case being tried.|
|Canon 1565.||§1. Questions must not be communicated to the witnesses beforehand.
§2. Nonetheless, if the matters about which testimony must be given are so remote to memory that they cannot be affirmed with certainty unless previously recalled, the judge can advise the witness beforehand on some matters if the judge thinks this can be done without danger.
|Canon 1566.||Witnesses are to give testimony orally and are not to read written materials unless they are computations and accounts; in this case, they can consult the notes which they brought with them.|
|Canon 1567.||§1. The notary is to write down the response immediately and must report the exact words of the testimony given, at least in what pertains to those points which touch directly upon the material of the trial.
§2. The use of a tape recorder can be allowed, provided that the responses are afterwards transcribed and, if possible, signed by the deponents.
|Canon 1568.||The notary is to make mention in the acts of whether the oath was taken, excused, or refused, of the presence of the parties and other persons, of the questions added ex officio, and in general of everything worth remembering which may have occurred while the witnesses were being examined.|
|Canon 1569.||§1. At the end of the examination, what the notary has written down from the deposition must be read to the witness, or what has been recorded with the tape recorder during the deposition must be played, giving the witness the opportunity to add, suppress, correct, or change it.
§2. Finally, the witness, the judge, and the notary must sign the acts.
|Canon 1570.||Although already examined, witnesses can be recalled for examination before the acts or testimonies are published, either at the request of a party or ex officio, if the judge decides it is necessary or useful, provided that there is no danger of collusion or corruption.|
|Canon 1571.||Both the expenses which the witnesses incurred and the income which they lost by giving testimony must be reimbursed to them according to the just assessment of the judge.|
|Processes » The Contentious Trial » The Ordinary Contentious Trial » Proofs » Witnesses and testimonies » The trustworthiness of testimonies|
|Canon 1572.||In evaluating testimony, the judge, after having requested testimonial letters if necessary, is to consider the following:
1. what the condition or reputation of the person is;
2. whether the testimony derives from personal knowledge, especially from what has been seen or heard personally, or whether from opinion, rumor, or hearsay;
3. whether the witness is reliable and firmly consistent or inconsistent, uncertain, or vacillating;
4. whether the witness has co-witnesses to the testimony or is supported or not by other elements of proof.
|Canon 1573.||The testimony of one witness cannot produce full proof unless it concerns a qualified witness making a deposition concerning matters done ex officio, or unless the circumstances of things and persons suggest otherwise.|
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