Police play important roles in security and, sometimes, as witnesses. I am often asked about police coming to the scene and the tickets issued (or not) and what it all means in the civil context (as opposed to criminal) case.
My clients are often surprised about the ticket issued. I have written on that extensively before. However, what an officer may offer to a case from other angles can be critical:
- potential black box investigation
- statements taken after arrival at the scene
- impressions by the police officer of the drivers involved (for example, was someone drinking, did one driver seem to be telling the truth in a "close call" or did the officer notice skid marks or other physical indications of fault?)
- observations of the weather and traffic conditions
Illinois has a specific rule on listing a witness such as a police officer in a case. It is Illinois Supreme Court Rule 213 and spells out the required disclosures. That rule states in pertinent part at sub-paragraph (f):
(f) Identity and Testimony of Witnesses. Upon written interrogatory, a party must furnish the identities and addresses of witnesses who will testify at trial and must provide the following information:
(1) Lay Witnesses. A "lay witness" is a person giving only fact or lay opinion testimony. For each lay witness, the party must identify the subjects on which the witness will testify. An answer is sufficient if it gives reasonable notice of the testimony, taking into account the limitations on the party's knowledge of the facts known by and opinions held by the witness.
(2) Independent Expert Witnesses. An "independent expert witness" is a person giving expert testimony who is not the party, the party's current employee, or the party's retained expert. For each independent expert witness, the party must identify the subjects on which the witness will testify and the opinions the party expects to elicit. An answer is sufficient if it gives reasonable notice of the testimony, taking into account the limitations on the party's knowledge of the facts known by and opinions held by the witness.
(3) Controlled Expert Witnesses. A "controlled expert witness" is a person giving expert testimony who is the party, the party's current employee, or the party's retained expert. For each controlled expert witness, the party must identify: (i) the subject matter on which the witness will testify; (ii) the conclusions and opinions of the witness and the bases therefor; (iii) the qualifications of the witness; and (iv) any reports prepared by the witness about the case.
It is important that your lawyer not only list a police officer who may be helpful but also all other witnesses. Make sure your lawyer is doing just that - making a proper list. If not, get a second opinion! These details matter.
You can contact me here 24/7/365 (and I really mean that as I will answer my phone) if you have any questions and to learn how I may be able to help you or your loved one who may need, or simply want, a second opinion - in particular, you will find that I listen, take your phone calls and e-mails (and even text messages--BUT NOT WHILE DRIVING!!). I would be honored to help you with your matters - large or small.