The silent witness: Pragmatic and literal interpretations

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The Israeli Supreme Court has changed its decisions several times concerning the evidence of the silent witness in criminal cases, focusing on the interpretation of section 10a of the 1971 Evidence Ordinance – whether or not to admit as testimony what the witness has told the police if the witness is silent on the stand. The article will analyze the judicial opinions of the majority and minority sides of the bench in the 1991 <i>Haj Yehia </i>case. The majority opinion, which decided to accept such out-of-court evidence, may be considered to be pragmatic: meaning derives both from the words and from the purpose of the text. The approach of the minority derives from a more literal interpretation of the law.


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