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testifying in writing

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testifying in writing

Postby megaman » Sat Dec 10, 2016 3:07 am

In a criminal trial is it possible for a witness to testify in writing?

if not why not

there are a wide range of measures that can be taken including testifying via video link to testifying from behind a screen wearing masks while using voice altering technology.

There are some people for whom the act of speaking verbally is what causes a problem.
it does not matter if or not their identities are concealed.
it does not matter if or not they are present or on a screen.
it does not matter what the manner in which they are questioned is.
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Re: testifying in writing

Postby dls » Sat Dec 10, 2016 6:56 am

Probably the majority of evidence given to courts is given in writing. In criminal cases, the prosecutor may, serve, say twenty written statements. The defendant identifies one or two with which he disagrees, or where he requires the witness to attend. The rest are accepted in evidence without difficulty.

You appear instead to be asking can a witness give contested evidence in writing, to which I can say that it would no doubt be a rare case, but if proper and adequate reason is given, no doubt a way could be found. You might expect a court to require to be convinced.
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Re: testifying in writing

Postby Maz JP » Mon Dec 12, 2016 4:12 pm

megaman wrote:In a criminal trial is it possible for a witness to testify in writing?

if not why not

Because evidence needs to be tested, and that normally means cross-examination.

You can't cross-examine a document.

(That said, there are many witnesses who the prosecution and defence agree can testify in writing, because their evidence is not contested, as dls notes.

So the other answer to your question, is yes it is).
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Re: testifying in writing

Postby atticus » Mon Dec 12, 2016 5:40 pm

In civil litigation there are procedures under the Civil Evidence Act [I think 1978] whereby written statements of persons who are "beyond the seas" r ill or dead may be served and used. Judges tend to give these less weight as the witness is not cross-examined, albeit that other corroborating evidence may bolster the evidence of such witnesses.

Is there anything similar in criminal procedure?
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Re: testifying in writing

Postby Maz JP » Fri Dec 16, 2016 9:34 am

atticus wrote:Is there anything similar in criminal procedure?

My experience may be limited of course, but the only time I can recall seeing un-cross-examinable documents used in criminal procedures is when, during a sentencing process, the defendant may show us letters from employers etc purporting to show good character.

It's been a few years since I have done traffic (most magistrates try and avoid traffic courts!), but don't defendants sometimes plead mitigation in writing? (Not quite criminal, perhaps...).
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Re: testifying in writing

Postby Hairyloon » Fri Dec 16, 2016 4:12 pm

Maz JP wrote:
megaman wrote:In a criminal trial is it possible for a witness to testify in writing?

if not why not

Because evidence needs to be tested, and that normally means cross-examination.

You can't cross-examine a document...

But you could cross examine a witness who gives testimony in writing.
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Re: testifying in writing

Postby atticus » Fri Dec 16, 2016 5:52 pm

How?
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Re: testifying in writing

Postby Smouldering Stoat » Fri Dec 16, 2016 5:55 pm

By post. Slowly.
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Re: testifying in writing

Postby Hairyloon » Fri Dec 16, 2016 6:22 pm

atticus wrote:How?

Neatly demonstrated.
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Re: testifying in writing

Postby atticus » Fri Dec 16, 2016 6:27 pm

I thought you might have a cunning plan. Stoaty's suggestion shows up how impractical your idea is.
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