Brief Fact Summary. Two men were accused of burning down a property on which they later attempted to collect fire insurance.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. In order to introduce testimony from a former trial into a subsequent one there must be (1) an inability to obtain the testimony from the witness, (2) a previous opportunity to cross examine the witness, (3) similarity of issues, and (4) similarity of parties.
Where there is doubt or ambiguity in the opening statement of counsel upon which judgment is asked, the counsel who makes it is entitled to the presumption that he did not intend to make an admission that would be fatal to his case.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Whether testimony gleaned at a criminal trial may later be used in a civil trial concerning the same transaction if the witnesses in question are no longer available?
Held. Yes. As long as the requirements of the rule are met, the evidence may be admitted.
Discussion. An important aspect of the test involved here is that the previous opportunity to cross examine must have been adequate. In this case, the previous criminal trial involved the same issues, and in fact the same point had to be proved in order for the adverse party to win in either case.