evidence. The legal fitness or ability of a witness to
be heard on the trial of a cause. This term is also applied to written or
other evidence which may be legally given on such trial, as, depositions,
letters, account-books, and the like.
2. Prima facie every person offered is a competent witness, and must be
received, unless Lis incompetency (q. v.) appears. 9 State Tr. 652.
3. There is a difference between competency and credibility. A witness may
be competent, and, on examination, his story may be so contradictory and
improbable that he may not be believed; on the contrary he may be incompetent,
and yet be perfectly credible if he were examined.
4. The court are the sole judges of the competency of a witness, and may,
for the purpose of deciding whether the witness is or is not competent,
ascertain all the facts necessary to form a judgment. Vide 8 Watts, R. 227;
and articles Credibility; Incompetency; Interest; Witness.
5. In the French law, by competency is understood the right in a court to
exercise jurisdiction in a particular case; as, where the, law gives jurisdiction
to the court when a thousand francs shall be in dispute, the court is competent
if, the sum demanded is a thousand francs or upwards, although the plaintiff
may ultimately recover less.
Source: Bouviers Law Dictionary 1856 Edition
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