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Roger
Roger, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  BV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell; SuperLawyer rating by Thompson-Reuters
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As a defendant, how do I enter the parts of my version of facts

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As a defendant, how do I enter the parts of my version of facts that occurred at a trial, myself. I have exhibits in my possession and am also knowledgeable of events that are needed in addition to any other witnesses I can think of.

Kirk Adams :

Hi - my name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm a litigation attorney. Thanks for your question. I'll be glad to help you today!

Kirk Adams :

This is a very broad issue, but I'll do my best to provide you with the information you need.

Kirk Adams :

Once the plaintiff puts on his/her case, you would be able to do the same thing to put on your proof.

Kirk Adams :

Your version of facts would come from anywitnesses - - including yourself - - with first-hand knowledge of the facts/events of the case. Of course, if you don't have an attorney, you would have to ask questions from the other witnesses to solicit their testimony as to what occurred.

Kirk Adams :

Also, any exhibit/document you have that you want to introduce into evidence must be qualified by a witness - - meaning that a person must be able to identify the document and then tell the court what it says/means. Once the document is qualified, it can be admitted as an exhibit and made a part of the court record.

Kirk Adams :

These are the two basic ways that evidence is presented to the court - - testimony and exhibits. Both must be solicited from the attorney/pro se party by asking questions of the witnesses and qualifying the documents to be introduced as evidence.

Kirk Adams :

Basically, you want to tell your story through the testimony and evidence that you have. If you are knowledgeable to the facts and events, then you should be able to put together questions necessary to get this information to the court.

Kirk Adams :

I hope this answers your question, but if you need anything further, please do not hesitate to ask. Thanks!

Customer: If I am both the defendant and the witness, without a lawyer, how do I present my testimony and exhibits of which I am knowledgeable to the court? As opposed to what I can have a witness testify to? Thank you.
Kirk Adams :

This is an unusual situation, but I actually tried a case against a pro se plaintiff a few months ago.

Kirk Adams :

In that case, the plainitff took the stand and just told his story without being prompted with questions.

Kirk Adams :

When it came time for an exhibit to be entered, the plaintiff would identify the document to the court, tell what the document was and then asked the court to admit the document into evidence.

Kirk Adams :

Then, I would have an opportunity to object if I felt the document wasn't relevant, that the proper foundation had not be laid (proper identification and authentication of the document).

Kirk Adams :

The best thing to do is sit down with the other side and go through all of the exhibits before trial. This will allow you to inform the judge that you've agreed to all exhibits and then all you would have to do is simply have it marked and then tell what each document you want to use says, where it came from, etc.

Kirk Adams :

Thus, you would really handle your testimony no different than that of anyone else - - EXCEPT that you will not be prompted by questions.

Customer: Thank you. XXXXX am listing witnesses in a pretrial statement to the court, do I have to have already talked to them and gotten their agreement to testify? What do I do if I don't get their agreement or haven't gotten to them before I have to put in the list? And is there any way to put a witness on a list in reserve, in case I need them, as I don't know what the other side is using for evidence yet? Thank you.
Kirk Adams :

No, you don't have to speak to the witnesses before trial, and you don't have to get their permission, BUT if you don't have their agreement to be there, you certainly need a subpoena issued to them to assure their attendance (this isn't a bad idea, anyway, but especially if you don't have an agreement with the witness).

Kirk Adams :

You can have the court issue and serve witness subpoenas on all of the people you may call to testify.

Customer: With witnesses and exhibits, is there a way to add either witnesses or exhibits in response to what the plaintiff provides in their pretrial statement? I have very little detail as to what they are actually claiming for evidence right now and won't know until after I receive their statement. Also, is there a difference with exhibits or witnesses that are to be used to impeach their witness or exhibits? Seems I have seen reference to this difference. Thank you very much.
Kirk Adams : Usually, you must list ALL witnesses that you may call in your pre-trial statement. You don't have to say whether or not you'll call the person for sure, but you will need to list every person you can think of in your statement.
Kirk Adams : No, there's no difference in regard to regular witnesses/exhibits and witnesses/exhibits for impeachment in terms of disclosing.
Customer: Can I enter summary charts that put together details? If so, what do I need to do to authenticate?
Kirk Adams : Probably not.
Kirk Adams : Charts to put together details of the case probably won't be allowed.
Kirk Adams : If it were a chart regarding a reconciliation of numbers, or something to help understand a specific fact, or a timeline, etc. could be allowed. But, just a general summary of the case would not likely be allowed.
Customer: Was thinking chart to put together detail numbers, for example. Also, is there a way to use affidavits by me to enter some details, instead of all testimony? Could do new affidavit and/or use affidavits entered in previous motions with the court? Thanks very much.
Kirk Adams : Ok. If you create a chart of number details and you can reconcile the numbers and testify about them, then that would likely be ok.
Kirk Adams : However, affidavits are inadmissible at trial because the affidavit doesn't allow for the other party to cross examine the statement. Thus, you wouldn't be allowed to use an affidavit.
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