Robert R. Barton
§ 8.01. IMPEACHMENT
§ 8.01.1. Meaning
Impeachment is an attack on credibility. It involves a subject and a technique usually employed on cross-examination to discredit testimony given by an opposing witness on direct examination, or to discredit the witness who gave the testimony. Refreshing recollection is not a technique for discrediting an opposing witness’s testimony on cross-examination. It is a technique for accrediting your own forgetful
witness during direct examination. The rule, then, is refresh the recollection of your witnesses, and impeach the credibility of opposing witnesses. Even if an opposing witness might admit that a prior statement is correct and his or her trial testimony is incorrect, that admission should be achieved by impeaching the witness with the prior inconsistent statement, rather than by attempting to refresh the recollection of the witness with the prior statement.
Two forms of attack may be made on credibility: (1) an attack upon the testimony to show that the testimony is not reliable, and (2) an attack upon the witness to show that he or she is a person who is not a reliable source of evidence.
There are two types of impeachment: (1) intrinsic, i.e., the witness admits the impeaching fact on cross-examination, and (2) extrinsic, i.e., evidence of the impeaching fact is presented from a source other than the cross-examined witness.