A Reconsideration of the Sworn Testimony Requirement: Securing Truth in the Twentieth Century

The purpose of this Note is relatively modest-to explore whether the traditional uncritical confidence placed in the sworn nature of testimony is justified in light of twentieth-century practice. As such, its intention is not to propose legal reforms, but rather to invite its readers to pause and reconsider a ritual too often taken for granted by the legal profession. To this end, this Note will examine the following factors influencing the character of the oath in modern times: the common-law and religious roots of the oath, the rise of nonreligious affirmation within the last century, the relationship between the oath and the law of contempts, the current de minimis standard for witness competency, and, finally, the relation of the sworn testimony rule to the law of perjury.