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No Contact: Superior Court of Pennsylvania Reacts to Violation of Sequestration Order by…Lifting the Order, by Colin Miller, EvidenceProf Blog


If you’ve ever been to trial and in charge of wrangling witnesses, you know about the rule of sequestration. Usually one or both parties invoke the rule at the beginning of trial, and anyone who may testify as a witness must leave the courtroom. The point is to prevent any witness’ testimony to be influenced by that of another’s.

This post discusses the Rule and the Court’s ruling when the Rule is not followed.  Like Mr. Miller, I don’t understand the Court’s ruling on this one. -CCE

Similar to its federal counterpart, Pennsylvania Rule of Evidence 615 reads as follows:

At a party’s request the court may order witnesses sequestered so that they cannot learn of other witnesses’ testimony. Or the court may do so on its own. But this rule does not authorize sequestering:

(a)  a party who is a natural person;

(b)  an officer or employee of a party that is not a natural person (including the Commonwealth) after being designated as the party’s representative by its attorney;

(c)  a person whose presence a party shows to be essential to presenting the party’s claim or defense; or

(d)  a person authorized by statute or rule to be present.

So, assume that a judge orders a witness sequestered and tells him not to discuss the case with prior witnesses. Further, assume that the witness violates this sequestration order by talking to a prior witness. You’d expect there to be severe consequences for that witness, right? . . .