witness,n.1. One who sees, knows, or vouches for something <a witness to a testator’s signature>.2. One who gives testimony under oath or affirmation (1) in person, (2) by oral or written deposition, or (3) by affidavit <the witness to the signature signed the affidavit.>. • A witness must be legally competent to testify. [Cases: Witnesses 224. C.J.S. Witnesses §§ 390–392.] — witness,vb.
“The term ‘witness,’ in its strict legal sense, means one who gives evidence in a cause before a court; and in its general sense includes all persons from whose lips testimony is extracted to be used in any judicial proceeding, and so includes deponents and affiants as well as persons
delivering oral testimony before a court or jury.” 97 C.J.S. Witnesses § 1, at 350 (1957).
“Every witness is an editor: he tells you not everything he saw and heard, for that would be impossible, but what he saw and heard and found significant, and what he finds significant depends on his preconceptions.” Patrick Devlin, The Criminal Prosecution in England 66 (1960). accomplice witness.A witness who is an accomplice in the crime that the defendant is charged with. • A codefendant cannot be convicted solely on the testimony of an accomplice witness. [Cases: Criminal Law 507. C.J.S. Criminal Law § 998.] adverse witness.See hostile witness.
alibi witness.A witness who testifies that the defendant was in a location other than the scene of the crime at the relevant time; a witness who supports the defendant’s alibi. attesting witness.One who vouches for the authenticity of another’s signature by signing an instrument that the other has signed <proof of the will requires two attesting witnesses>. — Also termed subscribing witness. [Cases: Evidence 374; Wills 113. C.J.S. Evidence § 829; Wills §§ 253–255.]
character witness.A witness who testifies about another person’s character traits or community reputation. See character evidence under EVIDENCE. [Cases: Witnesses 37(4), 274. C.J.S. Witnesses §§ 97, 461–462.]
competent witness.A witness who is legally qualified to testify. • A lay witness who has personal knowledge of the subject matter of the testimony is competent to testify. Fed. R. Evid. 601–602. [Cases: Witnesses 35–79. C.J.S. Witnesses §§ 87–201, 203.]
corroborating witness.A witness who confirms or supports someone else’s testimony. [Cases: Witnesses 410. C.J.S. Witnesses § 776.]
court witness.A witness called or re-called to testify by the judge. • The witness called to testify by the court usu. has expertise in the subject matter of the trial and is considered necessary to resolve a conflict in the testimony. The court’s discretion to call its own witnesses exists in both civil and criminal cases.
credible witness.A witness whose testimony is believable.
disinterested witness.A witness who has no private interest in the matter at issue. [Cases: Witnesses 91. C.J.S. Witnesses §§ 211–212.]
expert witness.A witness qualified by knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education to provide a scientific, technical, or other specialized opinion about the evidence or a fact issue. Fed. R. Evid. 702–706. — Also termed skilled witness. See EXPERT; DAUBERT TEST. [Cases:
Criminal Law 478–480; Evidence 535–546. C.J.S. Criminal Law §§ 1070–1071; Evidence §§ 521, 523–527, 599–600, 612–617, 619–625, 628–630, 632, 634–638, 644, 649–653, 656–660, 666–668, 670–671, 673–678, 680–682, 685–686, 688.] going witness.Archaic. A witness who is about to leave a court’s jurisdiction, but not the country. • An example is the witness who leaves one state to go to another.
grand-jury witness.A witness who is called to testify before a grand jury. [Cases: Grand Jury 36.]
hostile witness.A witness who is biased against the examining party, who is unwilling to testify, or who is identified with an adverse party. • A hostile witness may be asked leading questions on direct examination. Fed. R. Evid. 611(c). — Also termed adverse witness. See adverse party under PARTY(2). [Cases: Witnesses 244. C.J.S. Witnesses § 422.]
interested witness.A witness who has a direct and private interest in the matter at issue. • Most jurisdictions provide that a person witnessing a will may not be a devisee under the will. The Uniform Probate Code, however, has abrogated this rule. [Cases: Witnesses 91. C.J.S. Witnesses §§ 211–212.]
lay witness.A witness who does not testify as an expert and who is therefore restricted to giving an opinion or making an inference that (1) is based on firsthand knowledge, and (2) is helpful in clarifying the testimony or in determining facts. Fed. R. Evid. 701. [Cases: Evidence
470–503. C.J.S. Evidence §§ 509–523, 527–596, 610–612, 619, 628, 633, 636, 649–652, 654, 656, 659, 661–663, 665–667, 669–675, 677, 688–690, 698, 708–712, 744–745; Executions § 435.]
material witness.A witness who can testify about matters having some logical connection with the consequential facts, esp. if few others, if any, know about those matters. [Cases: Witnesses 4.]
percipient witness.A witness who has perceived the things about which he or she testifies. See EYEWITNESS; EARWITNESS.
prosecuting witness.A person who files the complaint that triggers a criminal prosecution and whose testimony the prosecution usu. relies on to secure a conviction. [Cases: Criminal Law 210.
C.J.S. Criminal Law § 326.]
qualified witness.A witness who, by explaining the manner in which a company’s business records are made and kept, is able to lay the foundation for the admission of business records under an exception to the hearsay rule. Fed. R. Evid. 803(6). [Cases: Evidence 373. C.J.S.
Evidence §§ 824–825, 917–919, 932–933.]
rebuttal witness.A witness who contradicts or attempts to contradict evidence previously presented.
res gestae witness.A witness who, having been at the scene of an incident, can give a firsthand account of what happened. See RES GESTAE. [Cases: Criminal Law 363; Evidence
120. C.J.S. Criminal Law §§ 867–870; Evidence § 349.] skilled witness.See expert witness.
subscribing witness.One who witnesses the signatures on an instrument and signs at the end of the instrument to that effect. See attesting witness. [Cases: Evidence 373; Wills 123. C.J.S.
Evidence §§ 824–825, 917–919, 932–933; Wills §§ 303–305.]
supernumerary witness.An unrequired witness, such as a third witness to a will where only two are required.
swift witness.See zealous witness.
target witness. 1. The person who has the knowledge that an investigating body seeks. [Cases: Grand Jury 37.] 2. A witness who is called before a grand jury and against whom the government is also seeking an indictment. turncoat witness.A witness whose testimony was expected to be favorable but who becomes (usu. during the trial) a hostile witness.
ultroneous witness.Scots law. A witness who comes forward without being summoned to appear in court.
zealous witness (zel-<<schwa>>s). A witness who shows partiality toward the litigant that called him or her to testify and who seems eager to help that side in the lawsuit. — Also termed swift witness.
[Blacks Law 8th]