11/9/17 Proffer | Offer of Proof

Proffer | Offer of Proof

At trial, these terms are used for an explanation to a judge by a party or the party’s attorney as to how a proposed line of questioning, or a certain item of physical evidence, would be relevant to its case and admissible under the rules of evidence. Offers of proof arise when a party begins a line of questioning that the other side objects to as calling for irrelevant or inadmissible information. If the judge thinks that the questions might lead to proper evidence, the questioner will be given a chance to show how the expected answers will be both relevant and admissible. This explanation is usually presented out of the jury’s hearing, but it does become part of the trial record.
It is important for the party trying to offer the excluded testimony or evidence to make a proffer or offer of proof in furtherance of preserving this issue for appeal. Equally important, it gives the trial judge the benefit of hearing the excluded evidence, and perhaps reconsidering the ruling.