Using Things as Evidence: Exhibits
An exhibit is a document or an object used by either side in a lawsuit to prove his or her claim. Exhibits could be financial statements, medical records, counselor’s reports, photographs, tools, equipment or other things.
How do I prepare my exhibit for court?
Once you have selected what you want to use:
- Make a copy of each exhibit for your files. (The court may keep the original until it reaches a decision.)
- You May Have to Mark Your Exhibits
- Some courts will want you to mark each piece of evidence with an exhibit identifier. (For example, attach a sticker labeled “Exhibit 1,” “Exhibit 2”, etc. – OR “Exhibit A,” “B,” etc. Ask the clerk if you have to do this and -- if yes - which format to use.)
- Some courts will mark the exhibits in court.
- Some courts will not mark the exhibits at all.
TIP: Some documents have confidential information, such as bank account and social security numbers. Since you are required by law to show all evidence to the other side before the judge sees it, be sure to block out the sensitive information on a document in a way that is not damaging to the original – such as by using removable white typing tape over the information. Make a copy which you can show the other side. Don’t remove the tape on the original. Show the original to the judge. Once you retrieve the original from the court after its decision, you may remove the tape.
How do I introduce an exhibit in court?
To show the court one of your exhibits:
- First, show the exhibit to the other side in the case.
- Next, the bailiff will give the exhibit to the judge.
TIP: You may want to write down ahead of time why you want to offer this evidence. Then, when the judge asks, you can answer even if you’re nervous.
The other party may object to the exhibit for some reason. Try to answer these objections as best you can. Finally, the judge will decide whether to allow the exhibit or not.
If you do not have the documents you need to prove your case, you can learn how to get them sent to the court or taken to your hearing by clicking on the following links:
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