To Kill a Mockingbird Questions and Answers
by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird book cover
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In To Kill a Mockingbird, who were the four witnesses at Tom Robinson's trial?

Both Mayella (the plaintiff) and Tom (the defendant) take the stand as witnesses in order to state their own testimonies. Sheriff Heck Tate also testifies as a witness to Mayella's injuries; his testimony introduces potential errors in Mayella's accusations. Bob Ewell, Mayella's father, is the trial's only eye-witness, but as with Sheriff Tate, his testimony is later contradicted. 

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A witness is defined as anyone who can present evidence in a case ("Witness," West's Encyclopedia of American Law, 2nd. ed.). In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Tom Robinson's trial was extremely unusual due to lack of evidence and the fact that only two out of four people who testified at the trial can genuinely be considered witnesses, though the plaintiff and the defendant of a case certainly can testify as witnesses.

In the case, Mayella Ewell is considered the plaintiff, the person who is accusing another of wrongdoing. Tom Robinson is considered the defendant, the person who is being accused of a crime or offense and is denying involvement (West's Encyclopedia of American Law, 2nd. ed.). Both the plaintiff and the defendant certainly can serve as witnesses by taking the witness stand to state their own testimonies of what occurred; however, their testimonies are given less weight than the testimonies of actual witnesses, and the burden of proof always rests on the plaintiff. In other words,...

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