Evidence in Judicial Cases

  1. Evidence must be of a factual nature. It may be direct or circumstantial. Caution should be exercised in giving weight to evidence which is purely circumstantial.
  2. Any person may be a witness in a judicial case if the trial court is satisfied that he has sufficient intelligence to understand, and can sincerely take the following oath, or make the following affirmation:“I solemnly swear ( affirm ) in the presence of the omniscient and heart-searching God that I will speak the whole truth concerning the matters on which I am called to testify, as I shall answer to Almighty God.”
  3. The moderator shall require each witness before he testifies to take this oath or make this affirmation.

  4. The accused may object to the competency and relevancy of any testimony or evidence produced in support of the charges and specifications. The trial court shall decide on all such objections after allowing the accused to be heard in support thereof.
  5. Proof of a charge may be attempted by oral testimony or by duly authenticated documents. The testimony of at least two witnesses, or the testimony of one witness accompanied with admissible documentary evidence, shall be necessary in order to establish the truth of any specifications.
  6. If the accused requests, no witness called to prove facts in support of any one specifications shall testify in the presence of another witness who is to testify concerning the same specification.
  7. In a case initiated by a court, it shall appoint one of its members as a prosecutor, whose duty it is to secure a fair presentation of known facts to the court. He shall organize, direct, and present the case for the prosecutor. He shall have no part in the deliberations or decisions of the trial court. Witnesses named in the specifications shall first be examined by the prosecutor. The accused may then cross-examine. If the prosecutor or members of the court ask further questions, the accused shall be given the opportunity for re-cross-examination. Witnesses summoned at the request of the accused shall first be examined by the accused. If the prosecutor cross-examines, the accused shall be given opportunity to conduct a re-direct examination. Leading questions shall be permitted only under cross-examination.
  8. Private parties shall have the right to act before any court as prosecutors or be represented by counsel, who shall meet the qualifications set forth in Chapter IV, section 9.
  9. Regularly authenticated records of a court may be received in evidence in any other court.
  10. All questions concerning the relevancy or competency of evidence taken by a commission at a distance shall be determined by the trial court after the accused has been given an opportunity to be heard.
  11. If new evidence is produced after one accused has been found guilty, the trial court shall examine the evidence. If it is satisfied that there was good reason for not producing it at the trial, it shall grant a new trial, or, if an appeal has been lodged, it shall certify these facts to the appellate court, and the record of the case may then be returned to the trial court for the purpose of a new trial, or the higher court may conclude the case after hearing the new evidence as if it were a trial court.
  12. New evidence discovered during a trial may be offered, but, if such evidence is produced against the accused, he shall be given at least ten days in which to investigate it and prepare a reply thereto.
  13. Book of Discipline of the Bible Presbyterian Church, General Synod ©1998 Amended by the 55th, 56th, and 58th General Synods of the Bible Presbyterian Church.