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witness n

[Old English witnes knowledge, testimony, witness, from wit mind, sense, knowledge]
1 a : attestation of a fact or event [in whereof the parties have executed this release]
b : evidence (as of the authenticity of a conveyance by deed) furnished by signature, oath, or seal
2 : one who gives evidence regarding matters of fact under inquiry
: one who testifies or is legally qualified to testify in a case or to give evidence before a judicial tribunal or similar inquiry [a before a congressional committee] [no person…shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a against himself "U.S. Constitution amend. V"] compare affiant, deponent

adverse witness
: a witness who is called by or associated with an opposing party or who by statement, conduct, or other evidence (as of relationship) shows bias against or is injurious to the case of the party by whom the witness is called [sought to have his witness declared an adverse witness subject to impeachment] called also hostile witness see also leading question at question

alibi witness
: a witness upon whom a criminal defendant relies in establishing an alibi

char·ac·ter witness
: a witness who testifies as to the character or reputation esp. of a criminal defendant
: a witness who gives character evidence

expert witness
: a witness (as a medical specialist) who by virtue of special knowledge, skill, training, or experience is qualified to provide testimony to aid the factfinder in matters that exceed the common knowledge of ordinary people

hostile witness
: adverse witness in this entry

lay witness
: a witness who is not an expert witness

material witness
: a witness whose testimony is necessary for trial and whose presence may sometimes be secured by the state by subpoena, custody, or recognizance

prosecuting witness
: a witness (as the victim of a crime) whose own allegations initiate the prosecution of the defendant

qualified witness
: a witness who has sufficient understanding of a record-keeping system to provide testimony that forms the proper foundation for admission of evidence under the business records exception to the hearsay rule

rebuttal witness
: a witness called upon to rebut evidence already presented
3 : one who is called on to be present at a transaction so as to be able to testify to its occurrence
: one who sees the execution of an instrument and signs it to confirm its authenticity [a to a will]
4 : eyewitness [a to an assault]

bear witness
: to furnish or constitute proof or evidence

vt 1 : to furnish evidence or proof of
2 : to act as witness of: as
a : to see the execution of (an instrument) and sign for the purpose of establishing authenticity [ a will]
b : to be formally present as a witness of (as a transaction or the execution of a convict)
3 a : to see or experience directly
b : to take note of
: to bear witness
: give evidence
adj : being an object or location used to ascertain a precise boundary point esp. on a corner of a tract when marking that point itself is impracticable or impossible [a tree] [a corner]

Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law ©1996. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. Published under license with Merriam-Webster, Incorporated.

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