Witnesses are people who come to court to tell what they've seen or heard. These people should either be witnesses who saw what happened or experts on the subject matter of the claim involved.
Before you bring any witnesses to your trial, discuss the case with potential witnesses who have personal knowledge of the case, and decide who can provide evidence in your favor. Whether you're the plaintiff or the defendant, you may bring witnesses to your trial to support your story.
A subpoena is a command to appear at a certain time and place to give testimony regarding a certain matter. The testimony may be before the court or before a court reporter and, if requested, you may have to provide documents.
If you believe someone can provide essential information but the person is unwilling to appear in court, ask the clerk to issue a witness subpoena compelling the person to appear. You'll need to give the clerk the person's full name and address. The clerk will inform you about the required fees. The witness must be served with the summons.
If you don't subpoena the witness and the witness doesn't appear at the trial, the judge will require you to have the trial without that witness. The judge won't let you come back later with more witnesses or more papers after the trial.
If you receive a subpoena, you may contact the person who had you served or his attorney for additional information on the matter. Contact information is located within the subpoena. Don't ignore a subpoena or the court may hold you in contempt (the act of disobeying a court's order); fines are possible.
An expert witness is someone who because of their education, training, skill or experience has more knowledge about a particular subject than the average person.
Examples of possible expert witnesses are:
- Automobile mechanics
- Automobile body workers
The Best Witnesses
Bring witnesses only if you know they'll support you. Witnesses who aren't friends or relatives may be more effective in proving your case. If your only witnesses are friends or family, you should still bring them but ask them to present themselves in a professional manner, be objective and not be emotional.
Talk to Witnesses before Trial
Always talk to your witnesses before trial. Your witnesses may not see or interpret the facts in the same way that you do, or they may have forgotten some of the important details.
Decide the order in which you'll call your witnesses. During the proceedings, the judge may ask questions of any witness.
Don't Interrupt Witness Testimony
Even if you think information provided by a witness is inaccurate, don't interrupt a witness to clarify the information. Make notes about the information you believe is inaccurate. You'll be given an opportunity to address those issues before the end of the proceeding.
Questions for Your Attorney
- Do I need to have witnesses?
- Can a witness testify by telephone?
- What can I do if one of my witnesses changed his story and ended up telling lies during my hearing?
Related Resources on Lawyers.comsm
- Start the process with our Texas Small Claims Worksheet
- Next in the Small Claims series: After Small Claims Court in Texas
- Success In Small Claims Court
- Small Claims Court Definitions
- Defending a Small Claims Court Case
- Visit our Small Claims Court Forum for more help