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Before the Trial

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Can I find out if the other side is calling witnesses? Will I have to tell who my witnesses will be?

As part of the discovery process, the parties can usually ask each other to identify any witnesses who saw incidents that occurred or who have other relevant information. The parties might also have to disclose if they plan to use any witnesses during the trial, both expert witnesses and non-expert witnesses who are often referred to as “lay witnesses” or “fact witnesses.” Depending on the type of court case, the parties might automatically have to exchange witness lists before trial. In other cases, you will have to request a witness list during discovery.

If you have to formally request a witness list, you would usually do this in writing as part of your discovery demands. In addition to requesting the names of the witnesses, you may be able to ask for a brief description of what they will testify to. Once you have the other side’s witness list, you can decide whether to ask for depositions from any of the witnesses. You can contact witnesses the other side identifies, and the other side is allowed to talk to your witnesses. However, you cannot threaten witnesses, intimidate them, or suggest answers. If you do plan to contact the other party’s witnesses, you should be careful about contacting the witnesses outside of an official setting because you could be accused of tampering with the witnesses.