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Believability. The major legal application of the term credibility relates to the testimony of a witness or party during a trial. Testimony must be both competent and credible if it is to be accepted by the trier of fact as proof of an issue being litigated.
The credibility of a witness or party is based upon the ability of the jury to trust and believe what he or she says, and relates to the accuracy of his or her testimony as well as to its logic, truthfulness, and sincerity. Personal credibility depends upon the qualities of a person that would lead a jury to believe or disbelieve what the person said.
n. whether testimony is worthy of belief, based on competence of the witness and likelihood that it is true. Unless the testimony is contrary to other known facts or is extremely unlikely based on human experience, the test of credibility is purely subjective. (See: credible witness)
credibilitynoun appearance of truth, auctoritas, believableness, credibleness, faithfulness, fides, integrity, plausibility, probity, rectitude, reliability, tenableness, trustworthiness, truthfulness, uprightness, veracity, verisimilitude
Associated concepts: credibility of a witness, impeachment of credibility
credibilityin the law of evidence, the aspect of evidence, usually the testimony of a witness, such that the fact-finder tells that the evidence can be believed. See also RELIABILITY.
CREDIBILITY. Worthiness of belief. To entitle a witness to credibility, he
must be competent. Vide Competency.
2. Human testimony can seldom acquire the certainty of demonstration. Witnesses not unfrequently are mistaken or wish to deceive; the most that can be expected is that moral certainty which arises from analogy. The credibility which is attached to such testimony, arises. from the double presumption that the witnesses have good sense and intelligence, and that they are not mistaken nor deceived; they are further presumed to have probity, and that they do not wish to deceive.
3. To gain credibility, we must be assured, first, that the witness has not been mistaken nor deceived. To be assured as far as possible on this subject, it is proper to consider the nature and quality of the facts proved; the quality and person of the witness; the testimony in itself; and to compare it with the depositions of other witnesses on the subject, and with known facts. Secondly, we must be satisfied that he does not wish to deceive: there are strong assurances of this, when the witness is under oath, is a man of integrity, and disinterested. Vide Arch. Civ. Pl. 444; 5 Com. Dig. 449; 8 Watts, R. 227; Competency.