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Code of Canon Law

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Art. 3. The Examination of Witnesses

Can. 1558 §1. Witnesses must be examined at the tribunal unless the judge deems otherwise.

§2. Cardinals, patriarchs, bishops, and those who possess a similar favor by civil law are to be heard in the place

they select.

§3. The judge is to decide where to hear those for whom it is impossible or difficult to come to the tribunal

because of distance, sickness, or some impediment, without prejudice to the prescripts of cann. 1418 and 1469, §2.

Can. 1559 The parties cannot be present at the examination of the witnesses unless the judge has decided to admit

them, especially when the matter concerns a private good. Their advocates or procurators, however, can be present

unless the judge has decided that the examination must proceed in secret due to the circumstances of the matters

and persons.

Can. 1560 §1. Each witness must be examined separately.

§2. If witnesses disagree among themselves or with a party in a grave matter, the judge, after having removed

discord and scandal insofar as possible, can have those who disagree meet together or confront one another.

Can. 1561 The judge, the judge’s delegate, or an auditor examines the witness; the examiner must have the

assistance of a notary. Consequently, if the parties, the promoter of justice, the defender of the bond, or the

advocates present at the examination have any questions to be put to the witness, they are to propose them not to

the witness but to the judge or the one who takes the place of the judge, who is to ask the questions, unless

particular law provides otherwise.

Can. 1562 §1. The judge is to call to the attention of the witness the grave obligation to speak the whole truth and

only the truth.

§2. The judge is to administer an oath to the witness according to can. 1532; a witness who refuses to take it,

however, is to be heard without the oath.

Can. 1563 The judge is first of all to establish the identity of the witness, then ask what relationship the witness has

with the parties, and, when addressing specific questions to the witness concerning the case, also inquire about the

sources of his or her knowledge and the precise time when the witness learned what he or she asserts.

Can. 1564 The questions are to be brief, accommodated to the mental capacity of the person being questioned, not

comprised of several points at the same time, not deceitful or deceptive or suggestive of a response, free from any

kind of offense, and pertinent to the case being tried.

Can. 1565 §1. Questions must not be communicated to the witnesses beforehand.

§2. Nonetheless, if the matters about which testimony must be given are so remote to memory that they cannot

be affirmed with certainty unless previously recalled, the judge can advise the witness beforehand on some matters

if the judge thinks this can be done without danger.

Can. 1566 Witnesses are to give testimony orally and are not to read written materials unless they are computations

and accounts; in this case, they can consult the notes which they brought with them.

Can. 1567 §1. The notary is to write down the response immediately and must report the exact words of the

testimony given, at least in what pertains to those points which touch directly upon the material of the trial.

§2. The use of a tape recorder can be allowed, provided that the responses are afterwards transcribed and, if

possible, signed by the deponents.

Can. 1568 The notary is to make mention in the acts of whether the oath was taken, excused, or refused, of the

presence of the parties and other persons, of the questions added ex officio, and in general of everything worth

remembering which may have occurred while the witnesses were being examined.

Can. 1569 §1. At the end of the examination, what the notary has written down from the deposition must be read

to the witness, or what has been recorded with the tape recorder during the deposition must be played, giving the

witness the opportunity to add, suppress, correct, or change it.

§2. Finally, the witness, the judge, and the notary must sign the acts.

Can. 1570 Although already examined, witnesses can be recalled for examination before the acts or testimonies are

published, either at the request of a party or ex officio, if the judge decides it is necessary or useful, provided that

there is no danger of collusion or corruption.

Can. 1571 Both the expenses which the witnesses incurred and the income which they lost by giving testimony must

be reimbursed to them according to the just assessment of the judge.


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