Comprehending laws and contracts is impossible, unless we first learn the meaning of the words and phrases they contain.

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Post by notmartha » Sun Mar 27, 2016 1:07 pm


KJV References



Webster’s Dictionary, 1828
Sufficiently; adequately; suitably; reasonably; as, the fact has been competently proved; a church is competently endowed.

COMPETENT, adjective

1. Suitable; fit; convenient; hence, sufficient, that is, fit for the purpose; adequate; followed by to; as, competent supplies of food and clothing; a competent force; an army competent to the preservation of the kingdom or state; a competent knowledge of the world. This word usually implies a moderate supply, a sufficiency without superfluity.

2. Qualified; fit; having legal capacity or power; as a competent judge or court; a competent witness. In a judge or court, it implies right or authority to hear and determine; in a witness, it implies a legal right or capacity to testify.

3. Incident; belonging; having adequate power or right.
That is the privilege of the infinite author of things, who never slumbers nor sleeps, but is not competent to any finite being.
It is not competent to the defendant to alledge fraud in the plaintiff.
Bouvier’s Law Dictionary, 1856
COMPETENCY, evidence.

1. The legal fitness or ability of a witness to be heard on the trial of a cause. This term is also applied to written or other evidence which may be legally given on such trial, as, depositions, letters, account books, and the like.

2. Prima facie every person offered is a competent witness, and must be received, unless his incompetency (q. v.) appears. 9 State Tr. 652.

3. There is a difference between competency and credibility. A witness may be competent, and, on examination, his story may be so contradictory and improbable that he may not be believed; on the contrary he may be incompetent, and yet be perfectly credible if he were examined.

4. The court are the sole judges of the competency of a witness, and may, for the purpose of deciding whether the witness is or is not competent, ascertain all the facts necessary to form a judgment. Vide 8 Watts, R. 227; and articles Credibility; Incompetency; Interest; Witness.

5. In the French law, by competency is understood the right in a court to exercise jurisdiction in a particular case; as, where the, law gives jurisdiction to the court when a thousand francs shall be in dispute, the court is competent if, the sum demanded is a thousand francs or upwards, although the plaintiff may ultimately recover less.


One who is legally qualified to be heard to testify in a cause. In Kentucky, Michigan, and Missouri, a will must be attested, for the purpose of passing lands, by competent witnesses; but if wholly written by the testator, in Kentucky, it need not be so attested. See Attesting witness; Credible witness; Disinterested witness; Respectable witness; and Witness.
Black's Law Dictionary, 1st edition, 1891

In the law of evidence. The presence of those characteristics, or the absence of those disabilities, which render a witness legally fit and qualified to give testimony in a court of justice.
The term is also applied, in the same sense, to documents or other written evidence. Competency differs from credibility. The former is a question which arises before considering the evidence given by the witness; the latter concerns the degree of credit to be given to his story. The former denotes the personal qualification of the witness; the latter his veracity. A witness may be competent, and yet give incredible testimony; he may be incompetent, and yet his evidence, it received, be perfectly credible. Competency is for the court; credibility for the jury. Yet in some cases the term “credible” is used as an equivalent for “competent.” Thus, in a statute relating to the execution of wills, the term “credible witness" is held to mean one who is entitled to be examined and to give evidence in a court of justice; not necessarily one who is personally worthy of belief, but one who is not disqualified by imbecility, interest, crime, or other cause. 1 Jam. Wills, 124; 28 Pick. 18.

In French law. Competency, as applied to a court, means its right to exercise jurisdiction in a particular case.

In Scotch practice. A term applied to a plea which might have been urged by a party during the dependence of a cause, but which had been omitted. Bell.

That which the very nature of the thing to be proven requires, as the production of a writing where its contents are the subject of inquiry. 1 Greenl. Ev. § 2; 1 Lea. 504.

One who is legally qualified to be heard to testify in a cause. See Competency
Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary
Competent Witness

A person who is legally qualified to testify as a witness. Legal qualification may depend on the witness's age, mental capacity, and relationship to the matter at issue.


1) Able to act in the circumstances, including the ability to perform a job or occupation, or to reason or make decisions.
2) In wills, trusts, and contracts, sufficiently mentally able to understand and execute a document.
3) In criminal law, sufficiently mentally able to stand trial or testify.
4) In evidence, relevant and legally admissible.


1) The state of being able or qualified to do something -- for example, make a will or testify in court.
2) Authority, authenticity, or admissibility, as in "the competence of the evidence."

Jean-Francois Revel:
A human group transforms itself into a crowd when it suddenly responds to a suggestion rather than to reasoning, to an image rather than to an idea, to an affirmation rather than to proof, to the repetition of a phrase rather than to arguments, to prestige rather than to competence.
Aymette v. State, 2 Humphreys 154 (Tenn. 1840)
This declaration, it is insisted, gives to every man the right to arm himself in any manner he may choose, however unusual or dangerous the weapons he may employ, and, thus armed, to appear wherever he may think proper, without molestation or hindrance, and that any law regulating his social conduct, by restraining the use of any weapon or regulating the. manner in which it shall be carried, is beyond the legislative competency to enact, and is void.

Paul Thiel:
Let me get this straight. For the past quarter-century or more, the central government has been stealing hundreds of billions of dollars each year from competent, hard-working, successful people and giving it to incompetent, lazy failures. As a result, middle-class America has increasingly been impoverished while the poor are even poorer. Now come calls for reforming the system, and liberals are denouncing reformers in the vilest language. What planet did you say liberals are from?
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Re: Competence

Post by editor » Sun Mar 27, 2016 8:51 pm


Can you please post your source for the quote from the Tennessee Supreme Court? I'd like to read more into the context. Thanks.
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Re: Competence

Post by notmartha » Mon Mar 28, 2016 12:42 am

Sorry, I fixed it above. It's:

Aymette v. State, 2 Humphreys 154 (Tenn. 1840) ... _state.txt
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