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Can a person insist on giving an oral statement before a court rather than a sworn...

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cryton | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 7, 2008 at 8:03 PM via web

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Can a person insist on giving an oral statement before a court rather than a sworn written statement?

It has been my experience that judges do not read witness statements properly, if indeed at all. In my present case the judge omitted reading my witness statement, and when I explained that the issues that he raised were in my sworn witness statement he just simply told me that he had made his decision and that his judgment stand regardless of the contents of the statement in question.

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urthona | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted September 7, 2008 at 9:52 PM (Answer #1)

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Your question is a bit unclear. Are you asking whether judges can ignore witness statements in making their decisions in nonjury cases?

I assume that a small claims court (or a similar court) tried your case. Many, but certainly not all, courts trying low-level cases will accept signed (and perhaps, in addition, notorized) statements from eyewitnesses and expert witnesses in lieu of in-person testimony. (In most types of trials, such statements are often considered hearsay and, therefore, inadmissible.)

It’s possible that the judge did not consider the witness statement because he determined that it was inadmissible.

It’s also possible that, as you suggest, he did not read that statement at all or glossed over it. As a matter of effective advocacy, the person presenting the case to the judge – whether it’s a lawyer or the defendant or plaintiff representing himself – should point out key points contained in witness statements, documents, or other evidence. Otherwise, there is a risk that a rushed or careless judge will overlook important evidence or issues. Is an appeal worth your time, effort, and expense?

Disclaimer: This post contains general legal information and should not be construed as legal advice to be applied to any specific factual situation. Each reader should consult a lawyer if you want a qualified professional’s assurance that this information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation.

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