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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71050
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Can a person in court refuse to enter the witness box

Customer Question

Can a person in court refuse to enter the witness box without being held in contempt?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

Yes, that does quite often happen.

It is a contempt of court of course. People regularly do it and are not prosecuted for contempt.

Contempts are fairly rare in the grand scheme of things. It is used as the power of last resort.

Can I clarify anything for you?


Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The judge wanted to question the relatives as to the whereabouts of a mother who had fled with her child (probably abroad) to avoid adoption.They refused to go in the witness box last week so the judge recused himself and adjourned until today (Monday) with a different judge ! Are they likely to avoid contempt as you say it is rare and they are folk from Somalia with little education and not great spoken or written English .?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 1 year ago.

Yes, that is likely in the circumstances Im afraid.

Otherwise why would he have recused himself.

I'm very sorry but that does sound like a contempt is being considered.