Texas v. Chiles,
88 U.S. 488 (1874)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Texas v. Chiles, 88 U.S. 21 Wall. 488 488 (1874)

Texas v. Chiles

88 U.S. (21 Wall.) 488


1. The purpose of the Act of Congress (Revised Statutes, § 858) enacting that

"In courts of the United States, no witness shall be excluded . . . in any civil action, because he is a party to or interested in the issue to be tried, provided,"

&c., was to put the parties to a suit (except those named in a proviso to the enactment) on a footing of equality with other witnesses -- that is to say, to make all admissible to testify for themselves, and all compellable to testify for others.

2. An order accordingly made for a subpoena to a defendant in equity, in order that his deposition might be taken for the complainant.

This was an application for an order that a subpoena issue for John Chiles, the defendant in the case of Texas v. Chiles

Page 88 U. S. 489

(a case in equity), in order that his deposition might be taken on behalf of the complainant. The proper disposition of the motion depended upon the solution of the question whether he could be required to testify by the other party. The statutory provision of Congress upon the subject, found in section 858 of the Revised Statutes, was as follows:

"In the courts of the United States no witness shall be excluded in any action on account of color, or in any civil action because he is a party to, or interested in, the issue tried, provided that in actions by or against executors, administrators, or guardians, in which judgments may be rendered for or against them, neither party shall be allowed to testify against the other as to any transaction with, or statement by, the testator, intestate, or ward, unless called to testify thereto by the opposite party, or required to testify thereto by the court. In all other respects, the laws of the state in which the court is held shall be the rules of decision as to the competency of witnesses in the courts of the United States in trials at common law, and in equity and admiralty."

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