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Preparing for Trial: Evidence

Evidence is information a party may show the court to prove his or her case. There are rules to follow to submit evidence to the court. Many are hard to understand. You can visit a Court Help Center to learn about the process, but Help Center staff can’t help you prepare your case.

Evidence can be from people or things.

 

Using People as Evidence: Witnesses

The people who can give evidence in a case include any party in the case, people who know things important and connected to the case, people who keep records that are important to the case and people who are experts on a question important in the case. Any of these people can be a witness in the case. Both sides have witnesses come to the trial to answer questions in front of the judge or jury. This is called testifying. If a witness won’t agree to come to court, the witness can be made to come by serving a subpoena.

Medical and dental malpractice cases must have a medical professional expert witness to testify. An expert witness can charge you a fee for coming to court. An expert witness can’t be subpoenaed. A signed and notarized statement can’t be used in place of live testimony.

 

Using Things as Evidence: Exhibits

Things can be used as evidence to prove a case, like pictures, police, medical, and school records and any other documents, like contracts, leases, bills or objects. All public documents must have proof from the public agency that the documents are true copies of the agency’s records. This is called a certified copy. When things are submitted to the court they are called exhibits.

To get bills into evidence that are above $2,000, an expert witness, like a painter, mechanic, plumber or electrician must testify at the trial as to the cost or need for the repair claimed.

A subpoena can be used to direct a person or organization to bring documents to court.

 

Subpoenas

A party can serve a subpoena to testify (ad testificandum) to make a person to come to court to testify when the person refuses to come on his or her own. A subpoena for records (duces tecum) can be used to require documents, papers or writings to be brought to the court as evidence.

To serve a subpoena, visit the Clerk’s Office in your court, they may have a form you can use, information on how to deliver the subpoena, information about the witness fee and any mileage fee that you have to pay, and how to get the subpoena signed by a Judge.

A person or organization can object to a subpoena by asking the court in a motion or order to show cause. This is called a motion to quash. Read How to Ask the Court for Something for more information about motions and orders to show cause.

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