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Evidence by Telephone

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In small claims court, witnesses usually appear in court to give their testimony before the judge.  However, this is not always possible.  For example, a witness may have a serious illness, be disabled, or live out-of-state.  In some cases like these, the judge may allow testimony to be given to him or her over the telephone on the day of the hearing.

1. Contact the court at least 5 days before your hearing to learn if this is possible and how you may arrange for the telephone call. 

  • In Contra Costa County, California, parties must use a service called “Court Call.”  There is a fee. Other courts may use different vendors, or have other steps you must follow.

2. If testimony by telephone is allowed, be sure to prepare your witness as if he or she were going to be in the courtroom. He or she should be ready to state:

For an eyewitness: 

  • His or her legal name and address 
  • The date of the event that was witnessed 
  • What he or she saw, heard, smelled, felt or tasted – and when and how he or she did so.


For an expert witness: 

  • His or her legal name and address 
  • His or her work and education credentials, which show his or her expertise in the field being commented on. 
  • What he or she did related to the situation to be able to render an opinion. 
  • When he or she did this. 
  • His or her conclusions. 
  • If possible, an estimate of the cost to redo the work properly. 
  • Any other facts that might be important in this dispute.




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