Ditching Live Testimony For Declarations Is Risky, Attys Say

By Bonnie Eslinger (June 27, 2022, 4:59 PM EDT) -- U.S. courts should move cautiously before embracing written statements at bench trials in lieu of live direct examination testimony, lawyers tell Law360, cautioning that their recent use in a high-stakes opioid trial doesn't mean the practice — which is standard in the U.K. — should be widely adopted at home.

U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer raised eyebrows in March when he announced that he'd keep the trial in San Francisco's bellwether opioid suit against several drug companies on a tight timetable in part by using written declarations instead of live direct examinations.

The use of written witness statements to present direct...

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