New York City Personal Injury Law Blog
Marking the Evidence for Identification
The Procedure for Presenting Something in Evidence
At trial before a lawyer offers something into evidence, he may want to show that piece of evidence to a witness. This piece of evidence could be a document or an object; however, the lawyer cannot simply walk up to the witness and ask him to have a look.
The lawyer has to firstly indicate what the piece of evidence is, and tell the court reporter what it is. This is done because if the case every goes to appeal, the incident of the lawyer asking the witness to look at a particular thing, will be recorded, and the judges presiding over the appeal will know about it.
For instance, the lawyer could say, “Your honor, I would like to mark this exhibit as plaintiff #1 for identification”. After the judge has given the instructions for the exhibit to be marked, the lawyer will further question the witness about the document or object that has been shown to him. The lawyer will further ask question like:
- Can you tell the court what this is please?
- Have you used this device before?
- Can you tell the court how this device works?
- Do you use this device every day?
The lawyer will then say he wants to offer this device plaintiff #1 for identification into evidence. The judge will then ask the defense if he has any objections to offering the device into evidence. If the defense has no objections, it will automatically be admitted into evidence. If there are objections, then defense will have to explain to the judge what their legal objections are.
The judge will then make a ruling about whether he agrees or disagrees with the objection. Once the device is admitted into evidence, the lawyer can then show the device to the jury as well.
Why is it Done?
The bottom line is when the lawyer asks the judge to mark something for identification; it is in anticipation of asking the witness certain questions about the piece of evidence. Once the lawyer has sufficient information from the witness about the particular object, and his familiarity with it, then the lawyer will be able to offer the object or document into evidence. The judge will then have to rule whether he is going to allow the particular object or document into evidence, after asking the defense if they have any objections.
In a personal injury case, evidence is introduced all the time, and lawyers will ask the judge to mark the evidence for identification. A particular process is followed so that it is all properly recorded and there is no confusion about what was introduced as evidence. Even if the case goes into appeal, all the incidences that occurred regarding submission of evidence will be available to the judges in the appellate court.