When someone is being called to trial, they have the right to call witnesses. This process typically takes place during the discovery phase and can be overwhelming or confusing. The following information has been gathered to help you understand the basics of witnesses at a trial.
During the discovery process, both parties can typically ask one another to identify any witnesses who might have relevant information. These parties may also have to disclose if they plan to use witnesses during the trial. Depending on the case, both parties may be required to exchange their witness lists prior to the trial. In other cases, the lawyer for each party will need to request the list at the time of the discovery.
In the event you need to request a witness list, your lawyer would likely do this in writing and as part of the demands. Apart from requesting a list of witness names, you may be able to ask for a description of what they plan to testify to. After you have the list of witnesses, you or your lawyer can consider asking for a deposition from any or all of the witnesses.
Both sides have the right to talk to one another’s witnesses; however, there can be no intimidation, suggestions of answers, threats, or harassment. If witnesses are to be contacted, it should only be done in an official setting. Any other setting could lead to accusations of tampering with the witnesses. An accusation like this could be devastating to the conflicting party of interest.
It must be said that witnesses should be handled only by your lawyer or the other side’s lawyer and not on your own.
At some point, expert witnesses may be called to trial. These people have special knowledge, skills, or experience and testify in court about what they believe has happened in a case based on their qualities and attributes. Unlike lay witnesses who are only able to testify about what they saw, heard, felt, smelled, touched, etc., an expert witness can draw conclusions and even give their opinion about the case based upon their findings.
Lawyers will commonly call expert witnesses in civil and criminal cases. They do not have to be academic in nature but can be anyone who has the knowledge to give their opinion. For example, an expert witness could be a psychologist, mechanic, janitor, doctor, teacher, truck driver, engineer, accountant, and so forth.
If expert witnesses are going to be used, the contact details and subject matter will need to be provided to the other side. This is necessary so the opposition can research the expert and build their own defense against them. It is not uncommon for two sides to call two expert witnesses in the same field who reach different conclusions.
When it comes to witnesses at a trial, there are many factors to consider and details to be aware of. A lawyer from the Saavedra Law Firm can help you to understand more about submitting witness lists for trial or expert witnesses during a consultation.
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