Rule in Queen Caroline's Case Law & Legal Definition


Rule in Queen Caroline's Case is a common-law principle that required a cross-examiner to confront a witness with the contents of a prior inconsistent statement before the introduction of extrinsic evidence. The witness must be confronted with the time, place, persons present and the substance of an impeaching statement before extrinsic evidence could be admitted as proof that the statement had been made. The rule was laid down in the in Queen Caroline's Case, 2 Br. & B. 284, 129 Eng. Rep. 976 (1820) which states: “If it be intended to bring the credit of a witness into question by proof of anything he may have said or declared touching the cause, the witness is first asked, upon cross-examination, whether or not he has said or declared that which is intended to be proved.”

In the U.S. Federal Rule of Evidence 613 embodies this principle, with some variations.

Texas has codified the rule at Tenn. R. Evid. 613(b) which says “extrinsic evidence of a prior inconsistent statement by a witness is not admissible unless the witness is afforded an opportunity to explain or deny the same and the opposite party is afforded an opportunity to interrogate the witness thereon, or the interests of justice otherwise require.”

The Rule in Queen Caroline's Case "laid down the requirement that a cross-examiner, prior to questioning the witness about his own prior statement in writing, must first show it to the witness."[United States v. Cottrell, 1986 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19272 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 9, 1986)]