Can a Witness Recant His Prior Written or Oral Statement In Texas ?
In Owens v. State, 916 S.W.2d 713, 717-18 (Tex. App.--Waco 1996, no pet.), the Appellant challenged a conviction for assaulting his girlfriend, claiming ineffective assistance of counsel. See id. at 715.
The sole witness in the case had previously provided the police with a statement claiming that the defendant had assaulted her.
At trial, however, the witness recanted the facts in her earlier statement and refused to implicate the defendant. See Owens, 916 S.W.2d at 715-16.
The court then admitted the statement into evidence without a defense objection.
Reasoning that the witness became a party opponent when she recanted her original statement during trial, the State argued on appeal that the statement represented an admission by party opponent. See id. at 717. the court of appeals disagreed and concluded that in a criminal proceeding the party opponent of the accused is the State, and not the witness/victim. See id.
Rule 613(a) allows a party to examine a witness concerning the witness's prior written or oral statement provided that the witness "be told of the contents of such statement and the time and place and the person to whom it was made, and . . . have an opportunity to explain or deny such statement." TEX R. EVID. 613(a). Likewise, the law subjects the credibility of a witness to attack by any party, including the party calling such witness. TEX R. EVID. 607.