Giving False Name on the Witness Stand During Trial Consequences

In Smith v. Illinois, 390 U.S. 129, 131, 19 L. Ed. 2d 956, 88 S. Ct. 748 (1967), the prosecution's main witness identified himself on direct examination as "James Jordan". Smith, 390 U.S. at 130. On cross- examination, he admitted "James Jordan" was not his actual name. Id. When the defendant attempted to elicit his actual name and address, the trial court sustained the prosecutor's objection. Id. The Supreme Court held that, by denying defendant the right to ask the witness, whose credibility was in issue, his name and address, the trial court effectively "emasculated the right of cross-examination itself" as "the very starting point in 'exposing falsehood and bringing out the truth' through cross-examination is to ask the witness who he is and where he lives". Id. at 131.