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Introduction: Navigating the legal landscape requires a clear understanding of the rules governing court testimony. Central to this is Washington’s Evidence Rule 602 (ER 602), which outlines the requirement for personal knowledge in witness statements. This article demystifies ER 602, emphasizing its importance, flexibility, and its interplay with Rule 703 on expert testimony.

Demystifying Washington ER 602: ER 602 is a vital rule that ensures the reliability of testimonies in court proceedings. It asserts that a witness’s testimony must be rooted in personal experience or observation. This requirement is pivotal in ensuring that the evidence presented in court is both credible and directly relevant.

Key Features of ER 602:

  1. Mandate for Personal Experience: The rule emphasizes that a witness’s testimony should stem from their direct experiences, effectively reducing the reliance on hearsay or speculative information in legal proceedings.
  2. Proving Personal Knowledge: ER 602 offers flexibility in proving a witness’s personal knowledge. This proof can come from the witness’s own testimony or other supporting evidence, enhancing the adaptability of the rule to different courtroom scenarios.

Impact of ER 602:

  1. Credibility of Evidence: ER 602 strengthens the credibility of witness testimonies, a critical factor in achieving just outcomes in legal cases.
  2. Restricting Hearsay Evidence: The rule plays a crucial role in limiting hearsay, ensuring that testimonies are based on firsthand information.
  3. Synergy with Rule 703: ER 602 works in conjunction with Rule 703, which governs the opinion testimony of expert witnesses. Experts may offer opinions based on their expertise, even if they do not have direct knowledge of the specific case facts.

Practical Applications: ER 602 requires witnesses to provide testimony based on their direct experiences. For example, a witness to a traffic incident must have directly observed the event to testify about it, ensuring that the testimony is grounded in actual observation rather than conjecture.

Conclusion: ER 602 is a cornerstone of the Washington State legal system, ensuring the integrity and relevance of witness testimonies. By stipulating personal knowledge as a prerequisite for testimonies and providing guidelines for its proof, ER 602 upholds the effectiveness of the judicial process.

You can read the text of ER 602:

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About Blanford Law:

We are no-nonsense, relentless, fair, and honest. We are great listeners instead of fast talkers, that is just who we are. More than 20 years ago, Ken began practicing law with a deeply-seeded belief that every person has the right to the best legal representation available. He built his law firm on that belief. Another belief that he strongly adheres to is his fundamental belief that clients deserve respect, with no assumptions or preconceived notions.  If you or someone you know is accused of a crime or injured as a result of the negligence of another, please have them call us at 253-720-9304 or email us