A division in some books, agreements and other writings, for the sake of perspicuity, the subjects are divided into parts, paragraphs, or articles.
Chan. Practice. An instrument in writing, filed by a party to a proceeding in chancery, containing reasons why a witness in the cause should be discredited.
As to the matter which ought to be contained in these articles, Lord Eldon gave some general directions in the case of Carlos v. Brook. 'The court,' says he, 'attending with great caution to an application to permit any witness to be examined after publication, has held where the proposition was to examine a witness to credit, that the examination is either to be confined to general credit; that is, by produciug witnesses to swear, that the person is not to be believed upon his oath; or, if you find him swearing to a matter, not to issue in the cause, (and therefore not thought material to the merits,) in that case, as the witness is not produced to vary the case in evidence by, testimony that relates to matters in issue, but is to speak only to the truth or want of veracity, with which a witness had spoken to a fact not, in issue, there is no danger in permitting him to state that such fact, not put in issue, is false and, for the purpose of discrediting a witness, the court has not considered itself at liberty to sanction such a proceeding as an examination to destroy the credit of another witness, who had deposed only to points put in issue.
In Purcell v. M'Namara, it was agreed that after publication it was competent to examine any witness to the point, whether he would believe that man upon his oath. It is not competent, even at law, to ask the ground of that opinion; but the general question only is permitted. In Purcell v. M'Namara, the witness went into the history of his whole life and as to his solvency, etc. It was not at all put at issue whether he had been insolvent, or had compounded with his creditors; but, having sworn the contrary, they proved by witnesses, that he, who had sworn to a, matter not in issue, had sworn falsely to that fact; and that he had been insolvent, and had compounded with his creditors; and it would be lamentable, if the court could not find means of getting at it; for he could not be indicted for perjury, though swearing falsely, the fact not being material. The rule is, in general cases the cause is heard upon evidence given before publication; but that you may examine after publication, provided you examine to credit only, and do not go to matters in issue in the cause, or in contradiction of them, under pretence of examing to credit only. Those depositions,' he continued, ' appear to me material to what is in issue in the cause; and therefore must be suppressed.'
Eccl. Law. A complaint in the form of a libel, exhibited to an ecclesiastical court.