(REVISED 10/25/97)

When a justice or master exercises discretion to receive evidence by offers of proof in a civil, equity, or domestic relations case, the following procedure shall be employed:

1) An offer of proof as to the testimony of a witness shall be received only if that witness is in the courtroom at the time of the offer;

2) Subject to the usual authority of the court, any witness whose testimony is presented by offer of proof may be cross-examined by the opposing party;

3) Where credibility is challenged, or for any purpose in the court's discretion, the court may question the witness or require the witness' proof be presented from the witness stand.

Judges or masters taking evidence by offer of proof should inform the parties of this procedure and that by making an offer they represent to the court there is present a witness who would testify under oath in accordance with the offer.

In domestic relations cases, or other instances in which the formal rules of evidence do not apply, or may be relaxed in the court's discretion, if evidence could have been accepted by the court without the necessity of testimony under oath from a witness for its introduction, that evidence may also be received by offer of proof without the presence of the witness in court.

By making an offer of proof, an attorney represents to the court that he or she has examined the witness or document which is the subject of the offer and reasonably believes, taking into account all that he or she knows about the case, that the evidence is not false, is admissible through a witness who could testify under oath to establish the point for which it is offered, and is not offered for a frivolous purpose. In an ex parte proceeding, the attorney also represents that any offer of proof has been accompanied by a sworn statement of all material facts known to the attorney which will enable the court to make an informed decision of the issues presented.