Wiarygodność zeznań świadka. Niektóre problemy logiczne

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Wydział Prawa i Administracji UAM

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Credibility of witness'es testimony. Some logical problems


The article discussess two problems of great importance for a judicial practice: 1) conception of reliability of a informant, 2) partial reliability of the evidentiary statement. Two notions of „witness'es credibility" can be differentiated in the judicial practice, although judges are not always aware of that distinction. A type of facts which are foundation for a statement of reasons for the judgement is adopted as a criterion of that distinction. Consequently, one witness is found to be credible, while another is not: 1. a notion of credibility is of a reporting character, the judge finds that a given witness is credible with reference to relations on certain facts, as almost all of his information appeared to be true (mistakes were commuted rarely) and he supplied mny information from a given field. The notion of credibility1 is thus related to frequency of false and true information; 2. a notion of credibility2 has a prognostic character; data related to withness'es attitude, his personality, views, traits of character, knowledge (of facts reported), and situation he was in at the time of percepting facts (or at receiving information in some other way) are a foundation of judicial decision of his credibility. If the court is supplied with a certain amount of information on a witness and his testimony, and they are relevant with reference to a given event (e.g. a crime), the witness will be credible only when: 1. frequence of his mistakes and concealments with reference to that event is not exceeding a certain constant adopted by court and defining a level of its critical judgement towards the witness and his testimony; 2. mistakes and concealments of the witness are unintentional. Irrespective of defining credibility of the witness, the court has to be supplied with a satisfactory amount of information on the witness as well as with his testimony of a substantial duration to be able to estimate his reliability. The notion of credibility of the witness is also used in courts in two different meanings: 1. upon indicating that „the witness is credible", the court relates to the value of the very testimony. Consequently it means a total acceptance of the testimony or its dismission. . - 2. the expression mentioned above can also be a mental abridgement to the effect that credibility of the given witness is in p r i n c i p l e adopted by court, although a question of some statements of the witness may be not settled. In other words, credibility of all the statements separately is examined by court. It does not seem advisable to require from court to offer a total, univocal estimation of the whole of witness'es testimony (point 1). In the result his evidence could be found either totally credible or totally unreliable. In most of the cases, the said testimony is not a single statement of a fact formulated in a simple sentence, but usually it adopts a form of a set of various statements. It can be therefore indicated that a court can make its findings-without a breach of principles of logics-contrary to the testimony of witness who was found credible in principle and vice versa.



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Ruch Prawniczy, Ekonomiczny i Socjologiczny 46, 1984, z. 2, s. 157-169



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Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Biblioteka Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Ministerstwo Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego