Baltimore Trial Lawyer: Telephonic Appearance

Sometimes a party to a law suit or a critical witness may not be able to be physically present int he courtroom. In this case, the rules allow the party or witness to appear via the phone. Rule 3-513 which governs testimony taken by phone in the Circuit Courts lays out the requirements for such an undertaking.

First, and foremost the rule, perhaps due to the earlier unreliability of cell phones specifically excluded calls from those phones and limited it to landlines.  Some of us have not had landlines for years. We all know with new technology cell phones can now do amazing things beyond talk.

Whenever possible the request for a a witness to appear by phone should be filed at least 30 days before the trial or hearing. The court, however, has the power to grant such a request closer or at the day of trial upon a showing of a good reason why the person should testify by phone. Again our courts are courts of equity hence if you can show it is reasonable that the person cannot appear  for reasons such illness or hardship the court is likely to work with you.

In the request, you should list the name, address and phone number of the witness as well as what you expect the witness to say in court. Obviously, this is important because it gives the court and the opposing side what to expect out of the witness and how it impacts the case. The court needs this information to adequately determines things such as the need for such a witness and whether the other side will suffer prejudice.

This information is most likely known to those who work with the legal system every day, but if you are representing yourself, in your one and only case, it is important to attempt to get it right so that you increase the chances of your success. If you are judicious as to when you make this request both in terms of the type of party or witness as well as timing you are likely to succeed and get your side of the case heard.