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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sequester a Witness at Trial

Whether to sequester a witness is generally discretionary with the trial court. State v. DiModica, 40 N.J. 404, 413 (1963). The use of sequestration prevents "prospective witnesses from hearing what the other witnesses will detail in their evidence, 'for the less a witness hears of another's testimony the more likely is he to declare his own knowledge simply and unbiased.'" Ibid. (quoting State v. Zellers, 7 N.J.L. 220, 226 (Sup. Ct. 1824)). "Ordinarily, the sound exercise of [the trial court's] discretion requires granting a timely motion for sequestration." Morton Bldgs., Inc. v. Rezultz, Inc., 127 N.J. 227, 233 (1992); see also N.J.R.E. 615 (order sequestering witness may be entered at request of party or on court's own motion).
At the request of a party or on the court's own motion, the court may, in accordance with law, enter an order sequestering witnesses.

Associate Editor: Ernest Fantini