Out-of-State Witnesses Testifying in Guardianship Proceedings

How does a witness who is located in another state testify in a Minnesota guardianship or conservatorship proceeding? Minn. Stat. 524.5-606 is instructive.

Under that section, the court has the authority to allow the testimony of out-of-state witnesses in guardianship proceedings by:

  • deposition
  • “other means allowable in this state for testimony taken in another state” or by
  • telephone or other electronic means (although the statute doesn’t specifically state, presumably this would mean via things like Skype)
The statute goes on to state that the courts of this state and the other state should cooperate in designating appropriate location for the deposition or testimony. It would probably be wise to check with the trial court and find out if the out-of-state witness could testify “live” from his/her own home by himself, or whether he/she needs to be in the presence of someone who could swear him/her in. Counsel should also consider the logistics of telephone testimony in terms of having the witness look at, and testify about, exhibits. If the witness is going to be testifying about documents, counsel should coordinate with the Court and premark the exhibits and have a set messengered to the out-of-state witness for use during the proceedings.
In deciding how to offer the testimony of out-of-state witnesses, the parties to a guardianship action should consider things like:
  • cost (depositions are costly);
  • how important the witnesses testimony is (if it is important, usually “live” testimony, even if it is via telephone, would generally be preferable, in case the Court has questions for the witness);
  • how effective/compelling the witness is (if the witness would make a compelling witness, “live” telephone testimony may be more convincing than the court reading a deposition transcript.

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