General Question

luigirovatti's avatar

In a criminal trial, can a lawyer be called as a witness?

Asked by luigirovatti (2162points) August 27th, 2020

You heard me. If the lawyer who must question his/her witnesses has essential information for his case, who’s going to question him? Maybe a co-counsel?

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22 Answers

KNOWITALL's avatar

No. Attorney client privelage, same with spouses.
*I’m not an attorney.

zenvelo's avatar

If “has essential information for his case,” then he calls the witness he got it from to testify. Neither attorney can introduce evidence without the ability to demonstrate its veracity by cross examination.

luigirovatti's avatar

@zenvelo: But suppose witnesses did not give him the information? That he learned it by itself? Can SOMETHING be done?

zenvelo's avatar

How did he get the evidence? That is what is presented in court.

luigirovatti's avatar

@zenvelo: He could get material evidence, and then his own testimony confirming the evidence, or vice versa.

zenvelo's avatar

@luigirovatti He can’t produce evidence that he stumbled across. He has to introduce it with some verification of where it came from. He can’t say “I found these bullet casings in the street right near where the body was found”. or “I found these fingerprints on the gun which I found in the sewer”. That cannot be linked to the crime or the crime scene.

luigirovatti's avatar

@zenvelo: You keep talking about “evidence” while being a witness needs only verbal information.

zenvelo's avatar

@luigirovatti But a lawyer is not a witness; and cannot testify to hearsay. The attorney would have no credibility to the court, and as such cannot testify to something that cannot otherwise be presented.

LostInParadise's avatar

@luigirovatti , It would help if you can come up with some hypothetical example where you think that a lawyer has information that would require the lawyer to testify.

kritiper's avatar

Yes, but not one of the lawyers presenting the case at hand. It would be a conflict of interest.

luigirovatti's avatar

@zenvelo, @LostInParadise: For example, what if the lawyer must testify about his own purse?

zenvelo's avatar

@luigirovatti ”... his own purse I have no idea what that means. Why would a lawyer talk about his handbag? And why would it be relevant to a trial?

luigirovatti's avatar

@zenvelo: You miss the point. The point is it might be relevant all the same.

zenvelo's avatar

@luigirovatti No, you are missing the point. An attorney doesn’t have any evidence or knowledge of anything that cannot be corroborated by another. He has no knowledge of anything that can be used in a trial.

Give us one example or a for instance of time or situation where an attorney should be called to testify. You can’t, because they don’t exist.

KNOWITALL's avatar

How about when a client confesses to the attorney?
I watched a CSI or something like that once.

Since the attorney was bound by confidentiality, he told the judge and other attorneys in chamber, and they made a deal that the person wouldn’t do a murder charge but would be in a mental hospital for the rest of his life. I believe the client was a minor, so the parents agreed to the plea.

zenvelo's avatar

@KNOWITALL That isn’t the same thing, because it is not in court. And the attorney could no longer represent the defendant, and even then would be at risk of disbarment for violating confidentiality.

TV shows don’t generally follow the law.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@zenvelo Fair point well made.

give_seek's avatar

Upon research, it seems that an attorney actively involved in a case cannot be called as a witness. However, an attorney called to provide expert testimony in a case she is not associated with in any way can be a witness. https://definitions.uslegal.com/l/lawyer-witness-rule/#:~:text=Lawyer%2Dwitness%20rule%20refers%20to,witness%20in%20the%20same%20case.

luigirovatti's avatar

@zenvelo: Sorry about my last post, didn’t have time to explain myself properly. Suppose a thief steals a lawyer’s purse. The police catches him/her. Then the lawyer must testify that the purse is his. How can he do it?

zenvelo's avatar

@luigirovatti Then he isn’t an attorney to the case. He is just a crime victim who happens to earn his living as a lawyer.

You framed this question as ”...the lawyer who must question his/her witnesses.” But a lawyer who is victim of a crime doesn’t question witnesses, and does not take part in the investigation of the trial as an officer of the court.

luigirovatti's avatar

Yeah. In the end, though, I did a pretty good job with the question in general. :)

dabbler's avatar

They way you have ultimately explained it, the fact the person is an attorney is completely irrelevant. They are just the victim of a crime, called to the stand to testify.

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