RULE 602. LACK OF PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE
A witness may not testify to a matter unless evidence is introduced sufficient to support a finding that the witness has personal knowledge of the matter. Evidence to prove personal knowledge may, but need not, consist of the witness' own testimony. This rule is subject to the provisions of Rule 703, relating to opinion testimony by expert witnesses.
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 (See, generally, McCormick on Evidence, 10 (2d ed. 1972), and is established in North Dakota case law. See Teagarden v. Dahl, 138 N.W.2d 668 (N.D. 1965).
The rule states that a witness may not testify "unless 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.
SOURCES: Minutes of Joint Procedure Committee: March 24-25, 1988, page 12; December 3, 1987, page 15; April 8, 1976, page 26. Rule 602, Federal Rules of Evidence; Rule 602, SBAND proposal.