RULE 602. NEED FOR PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE
A witness may testify to a matter only if evidence is introduced sufficient to support a finding that the witness has personal knowledge of the matter. Evidence to prove personal knowledge may consist of the witness's own testimony. This rule does not apply to a witness's expert testimony under Rule 703.
Rule 602 was amended, effective March 1, 1990; March 1, 2014.
This rule deals with the competency of a witness, but only in a most basic sense. The requirement of personal knowledge is deeply embedded in the common law.
The rule states that a witness may testify "if evidence is introduced sufficient to support a finding" that the witness has personal knowledge. This gives the trial judge the power to reject testimony if the judge finds, as a matter of law, that no reasonable juror could believe that the witness perceived the event about which the witness is testifying.
The last sentence is intended to avoid any confusion which might otherwise arise concerning the relative requirements of this rule and Rule 703. This rule is subordinate to Rule 703, which does not require that an expert opinion be based on the expert's own perception.
Rule 602 was amended, effective March 1, 1990. The amendments are technical in nature and no substantive change is intended.
Rule 602 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, 2012, page 22; March 24-25, 1988, page 12; December 3, 1987, page 15; April 8, 1976, page 26. Fed.R.Ev. 602; Rule 602, SBAND proposal.