Witness Statements in Small Claims Court: Is a Declaration or Notarized Affidavit Better When a Witness Can't Show Up At Trial?

Asked almost 3 years ago - Los Angeles, CA

I have a nuisance case pending in small claims court. Part of my evidence is a witness statement.

It was VERY difficult finding a witness who agreed to sign his name on a document that will be used in a lawsuit, even a small claims lawsuit. Most witnesses didn't want to be involved & refused to help, even just by signing their name.

I have this one sole witness who agreed to sign a statement; however, he cannot attend the trial in court due to work. He'll sign a document, & go meet me at our local notary next door, but he won't miss work for my case.

So, given that my witness won't attend the trial in small claims court, would having him sign a notarized affidavit be better than a simple declaration? To "prove" he's a real person before a notary, so it doesn't look like I made him up?

Attorney answers (2)

  1. Frank Wei-Hong Chen

    Contributor Level 20


    Best Answer
    chosen by asker

    Answered . Actually, the legal effectiveness of an affidavit (notarized) and a sworn declaration signed under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California are exactly the same. See California Code of Civil Procedure section 2015.5.

    In small claims court, the rules of evidence are more lax than in regular court. I think what is most important for your case is the content of the declaration or affidavit.

    The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice.... more
  2. Pardis Patrick Ashouri

    Contributor Level 17


    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . Typically the evidentiary ruling the bench officer, the Judge will make is hearsay. The witness is not present and can not be cross examined.

    As mentioned in previous answer the rules of evidence is more relaxed on small claims court.

    So is up to the Judge to allow it or not.

    Good luck

    In addition to AVVO's disclaimer, please note that by this answer no attorney client relationship is intended and... more

Related Topics

Landlord-tenant law

Landlord-tenant law is governed mostly by state laws, and covers issues like security deposit limits and deadlines, evictions, and the right to withhold rent.

Real estate

The term real estate means land and items permanently attached to it, like buildings. This area of law deals with who has the right to own and use these items.

Can't find what you're looking for? Ask a Lawyer

Get free answers from experienced attorneys.


Ask now

33,923 answers this week

3,653 attorneys answering

Ask a Lawyer

Get answers from top-rated lawyers.

  • It's FREE
  • It's easy
  • It's anonymous

33,923 answers this week

3,653 attorneys answering