GENERAL RULE OF COMPETENCY TO
TESTIFY IN GENERAL Every person is competent to be a witness except as
otherwise provided in these rules.
Every person is competent to be a witness unless these rules provide otherwise.
Rule 601 was amended, effective March 1, 2014.
The essential thought underlying this rule is that, generally, the evaluation of a witness
should be made by the trier of fact, through a determination of the weight and credibility of
that witness' testimony, rather than by the prior imposition of standards of competency.
Thus, there are no standards put forth relating to mental or moral competency in these rules.
(Cf. State v. Oliver, 78 N.D. 398, 49 N.W.2d 564 (1951), wherein it was held that
competency is to be determined as a matter of law, considering the witness' intelligence,
ability to discern truth and falsehood, and recognition of the obligation of his oath.) The trial
judge will retain a certain amount of control over the "evaluation" of a witness in his review
of the sufficiency of the evidence.
Neither this rule nor any of the rules of this code contain a "Dead Man's" statute.
represents a departure from former North Dakota law. The former "Dead Man's" statute,
N.D.C.C. § 31-01-03, and by reference N.D.C.C. § 31-01-04 and N.D.C.C. §
31-01-05, are superseded by adoption of these rules.
Rule 601 was amended, effective March 1, 2014, in response to the December 1, 2011, revision of the Federal Rules of Evidence. The language and organization of the rule were changed to make the rule more easily understood and to make style and terminology consistent throughout the rules. There is no intent to change any result in any ruling on evidence admissibility.
Sources: Joint Procedure Committee Minutes
: of April 26-27, pages
21-22; April 8, 1976,
page 26. Rule Fed.R.Ev. 601 , Federal Rules of
Evidence; Rule 601, SBAND proposal.
Superseded: N.D.C.C. §§ 31-01-01, 31-01-03, 31-01-04, 31-01-05.
Rule N.D.R.Ev. 501 , NDREv
(Privilege in General).