“Proffer” means an offering of proof. So in a proffer hearing, an attorney will merely tell the court what the evidence would show, instead of actually presenting the evidence to the court.
The purpose of a proffer hearing is to give the court an idea of what the evidence would be, had witnesses actually testified and the court actually seen the “hard evidence”. Proffer hearings often take place when time is short or when the issues are not terribly complex or would result in a final order of the court.
In contrast, an evidentiary hearing is one in which the litigants actually present evidence in court: in the form of witness testimony, video, audio, financial documents, etc. During an evidentiary hearing, the witnesses–including you, if you testify–will be subject to direct and cross-examination by the attorneys.
Thus, it should come as no surprise that it takes much less time and effort to prepare for a proffer hearing than preparing for a full evidentiary hearing. In a proffer hearing you won’t do much, if anything, during the actual hearing, with the exception of perhaps providing the occasional clarifying answer if the court asks you a clarifying question or two. No witnesses are called to testify in hearing conducted by proffer.
If you are unsure if your upcoming hearing will be a proffer or evidentiary hearing, ask your attorney. It could be catastrophic for your case if you show up at court believing the hearing is a proffer hearing when it’s a full-blown evidentiary hearing.
Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277