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Can Witnesses be Taken Out of Order

Usually in a medical malpractice trial, witnesses are presented in a certain order. However, witnesses can be taken out of order as well, and for doing that, permission has to be issued from the court.

When a Witness is not available until Later

Typically, the attorney of the injured victim will present whatever proof and evidence is necessary in support of his client. Depending on the case, the witnesses could be a medical expert, an economist, people who witnessed the incident, and the plaintiff. Now, suppose the medical expert is not available until later on in the week, and the lawyer has finished putting on all the other witnesses that he had lined up.

In such instance, the judge will most likely say that since the defense's witnesses are waiting to take the stand, the medical expert witness of the plaintiff will be taken out of order. Since, the medical expert cannot come in the period designated by the court, the judge will tell the jury that there is one more witness but he will not be able to come to the court until later, and therefore they will then hear testimonies from the defense's witnesses now.

A Rebuttal Witness

In a typical medical malpractice case, the plaintiff's attorney will put in all the evidence that is necessary in order to support his client's claim, to show to the jury that the victim is more likely right than wrong. After that, the lawyer will tell the court that at this time the plaintiff rests. This means the lawyer is notifying the court that he has no more evidence, no more proof to show to the court. At such time, the judge will mark plaintiff's part of the case closed, and will give defense the opportunity to present their side of the case and present the evidence that they feel is necessary to defend their case.

Suppose this happens, the defense now comes in and put in their witnesses and evidence. After the defense is done, can the plaintiff put on new witnesses to address certain things that have not been addressed before? The answer is maybe, and this kind of witness is called a rebuttal witness. The plaintiff's lawyer will specifically ask the judge to call in the particular person as a rebuttal witness.

Request for Calling a Rebuttal Witness

The judge will ask the lawyer for an explanation for calling such a witness, and the lawyer will have to provide appropriate reasons that are valid. The lawyer might explain that a particular issue raised by the defense witnesses was never discussed by the plaintiff's witnesses. The lawyer will also have to tell the judge what the rebuttal witness is going to say on that particular issue. After listening to the explanations, the judge will then make a ruling about whether or not to allow this witness to come in and rebut the arguments that the defense has now raised.

Therefore, witnesses can be taken out of order, provided the judge gives permission for it to happen. 

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