Have You Been Subpoenaed to Testify at a Deposition, Arbitration, or Trial?

Have You Been Subpoenaed to Testify at a Deposition, Arbitration, or Trial?

We have all watched legal dramas on television where someone swears to “Tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth” before they testify in a legal proceeding.  If you have actually experienced this process yourself, you may have testified as a witness or party to a deposition, arbitration, or trial in Oregon or elsewhere.

In Oregon, a similar oath or affirmation for witnesses is set forth by statute and is designed to be administered by the court reporter, judge, or court clerk to all witnesses prior to providing testimony in such proceedings.  The Oregon statute is set forth here: https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/40.320

You may ask yourself why is this done?  Well, there are two primary reasons.  The first reason is to instill and impress upon the witness a seriousness to testify truthfully.  The second reason relates to the first reason and provides a potential legal remedy if a witness knowingly fails to testify truthfully despite this oath or affirmation.   That legal remedy is called “perjury”.  In Oregon, the crime of perjury is punishable as a class C Felony.  Perjury is therefore a big “No, No” if you want to stay on the right side of prison bars.  See: https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/162.065

Therefore, if you are a witness in any legal proceeding where you take an oath or affirmation to tell the truth, you should consider your legal obligations very seriously and never lie or knowingly make a false statement.  You should also do you best to not speculate or guess if you are uncertain about any matters you may be called to testify about.  Always listen to the question asked and respond to each question as best as you can.  If you are ever unclear about any question, you should ask the person asking you the question to repeat the question until you understand what is being asked and before you answer.  

By following these general guidelines, you will be able to respond to questions appropriately and in a manner that does not put you at personal legal risk.  You will also make a good witness.  Having a lawyer help prepare you prior to you providing the testimony in any legal proceeding will also help make your involvement in that process less stressful, smoother, and potentially risky.

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