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Help! I Have a Hearing Coming Up, How Do I Prepare? Part III – Deciding What Witnesses and Evidence to Use

Kim Gent

WORD OF DISCLAIMER: This blog is not intended to replace the importance of getting legal advice about your case from an attorney.  Rather, this blog is to give you general instruction about what is expected at a hearing (trial) and how to prepare. For specific instruction about your case and preparing for a hearing you should contact an attorney, or work with our LawYourWay program.

Your choice of who to call as a witness, what they testify to, as well as what evidence you present, serves as the basis for the Judge to rule in your favor and is crucial to winning your case.  Each witness you call should have a specific and unique reason for their testimony.  When deciding on who to call and how many witnesses to present, you must be aware of the time you have to present your case.  You may not have time to call everyone you would like.  Often, if you go over the time the Court has allotted for your case, you may not be allowed to present all the testimony and evidence needed for the Judge to fully understand your position. Determining which witnesses to call and what evidence to present takes time and planning.

Once you have determined the laws and statutes that pertain to your case and have applied your facts to the law (review Part II-Crafting a Winning Argument), you have the framework necessary to determine who to call as witnesses and what you need as exhibits/evidence in your case.

As outlined in the Part II-Crafting a Winning Argument blog, if you are asking the court to determine parenting time, the Court will need to apply the “best interest standard” as outlined in C.R.S. §14-10-124.  Using the example set forth in Part II blog, when applying the facts of your case to one of the factors set forth in C.R.S. §14-10-124, it might look like:

The child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community:

  • My son has been attending the same school in my school district for the last five years;
  • My son has established a strong bond with his stepbrothers who live with me;
  • My son has been a part of his school baseball team (which practices less than a mile from my home) since he was 6 years old; or
  • My son has been going to my neighborhood church for the last 7 years.

Now, to determine what witnesses and evidence you might need to make this argument, you should go through each statement of fact listed under the applicable fact of law and determine how you will get this information before the court.  Using the example above, this might look like:

The child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community:

  • My son has been attending the same school in my school district for the last five years;
    • Both parents can testify to this fact;
    • Introduce school records including son’s report card;
  • My son has established a strong bond with his stepbrothers who live with me;
    • My spouse, the stepparent, will testify to examples of bond between stepbrothers including how they practice baseball ball on a daily basis;
  • My son has been a part of his school baseball team (which practices less than a mile from my home) since he was 6 years old; or
    • Baseball coach to testify as to son’s involvement and history of participation in baseball;
  • My son has been going to my neighborhood church for the last 7 years.
    • Parent or Stepparent to testify;
    • Possibly call someone from the Church to testify.  This person must have personal knowledge of son’s involvement with Church.

Once you have done this for each point of law which the Court will need to address in your case, you can come up with your list of witnesses and exhibits that you will need to successfully argue your case.  For instance, in the above example you can determine that you may need the following witnesses and exhibits:

Witnesses:

  1. Parent
  2. Baseball Coach
  3. Step-Parent
  4. Possibly someone from Church that Son attends

Exhibits:

  1. School records/report card

After doing this for all issues in your case, you may need to par down your list of witnesses and/or exhibits.  The Court will limit the time allowed to present your case.  You must consider the time allowed to present your case in determining the number of witnesses to call.  In the example above, you may decide that instead of calling a church member to testify, that you or your spouse can testify as to your son’s involvement with the church.

As stated above, coming up with your list of witnesses and exhibits takes time.  You must be aware of the deadlines set by the court as to when you need to provide your list of witnesses and exhibits.  Reviewing my blog, “Help! I have a Hearing Coming Up-How do I Prepare, Part I” will help you determine the deadlines to submit your list of witnesses and exhibits in a timely fashion.

In the next blog, we will review some of the things you need to be aware of to successfully get exhibits into evidence.

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