Trials & Litigation

Reluctant trial witnesses should disclose vaccination status to judge, motion says

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Witnesses who want to avoid in-person testimony at an upcoming trial should disclose their vaccination status and explain their bid to testify remotely, according to a motion filed in a suit alleging retirement-plan mismanagement.

The March 29 motion, filed by attorneys for plaintiffs suing Columbia University, says the witnesses should disclose their vaccination status to U.S. District Judge George Daniels of Manhattan. Bloomberg Law has the story.

The school is seeking to avoid in-person testimony for 15 fact witnesses at the April 12 trial. The school says its witnesses prefer not to testify or would be uncomfortable doing so. Lawyers for the class-action plaintiffs counter that, in their personal experience, “witnesses who testify remotely deliver less effective testimony.”

The motion says Daniels should determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether good cause exists to avoid in-person testimony for those who have been vaccinated.

Given the “extraordinary efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, vaccinated witnesses, who are at extremely low risk of contracting or transmitting COVID-19, should bear the burden of explaining why it would still be a ‘real inconvenience’ to testify in person with robust antibodies and two masks, and at a six-foot distance from every other person in the courtroom,” the motion said.

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