In law and in religion, testimony is a solemn attestation as to the truth of a matter.
The origin is "the Indo-European roots *tre- meaning 'three' and *sta- meaning 'stand'. A witness was 'a third person standing by'. From that came the verb testificare 'to bear witness', which evolved into Middle English testify in the fourteenth century."
In the law, testimony is a form of evidence that is obtained from a witness who makes a solemn statement or declaration of fact. Testimony may be oral or written, and it is usually made by oath or affirmation under penalty of perjury. Unless a witness is testifying as an expert witness, testimony in the form of opinions or inferences is generally limited to those opinions or inferences that are rationally based on the perceptions of the witness and are helpful to a clear understanding of the witness' testimony.
A subpoena commands a person to reappear. It is compulsory to comply.
When a witness is asked a question, the opposing attorney can raise an objection, which is a legal move to disallow an improper question, preferably before the witness answers, and mentioning one of the standard reasons, including:
- argumentative or inflammatory
- asked and answered
- best evidence rule
- calls for speculation
- calls for a conclusion
- compound question or narrative
- irrelevant, immaterial, incompetent (this is actually not a proper objection because the term "incompetent" is meaningless and the words "irrelevant" and "immaterial" have the same meaning under the Federal Rules of Evidence).
- lack of foundation
- leading question
- ultimate issue testimony
There may also be an objection to the answer, including:
Up until the mid-20th century, in much of the United States, an attorney often had to follow an objection with an exception to preserve the issue for appeal. If an attorney failed to "take an exception" immediately after the court's ruling on the objection, he waived his client's right to appeal the issue. Exceptions have since been abolished, due to the widespread recognition that forcing lawyers to take them was a waste of time.
In religion, testimony generally involves an inward belief or outward profession of faith or of personal religious experience.
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