Menlo Park, CA asked in Landlord - Tenant and Small Claims for California

Q: Phone call recording and witness statement evidence in small claims court?

I am a defendant on small claims. I recently had a phone call with the plaintiff(former housemate). I wanted to record the call for my records, so I let him know the start of the call about (but not anytime before the call). He did not decline to talk to me after learning this. At the end of the call he requested a copy of the audio file and claimed that he was blindsided. I simply wanted to discuss some facts / events that had happened in the past.

Am I legally bound to provide him a copy ? If I want to use this call recording as an evidence during the hearing, would that be allowed. And if I want to use the audio file as evidence, then am I required to provide it to the plaintiff beforehand as per their request or is it ok to just declare it during hearing when judge asks us to exchange the evidences we have , as seems to be the process in CA courts.

I am planning to have some witness declaration document from a previous housemate as evidence in this case. Any specific tips on that

1 Lawyer Answer
Maurice Mandel II
Maurice Mandel II
  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Newport Beach, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: First, if you notify the other party, the recording is not unlawful, in most circumstances. In small claims there is no pre-trial discovery, so you do not need to provide him a copy of the sound recording. I would anticipate difficulty in getting the judge to allow you to use the recording, so you may want to prepare a legal brief of about 3 pages to address the admissibility of the recording. You are not allowed to have an attorney represent you at the SC trial, however, you can hire an attorney to assist you to prepare a legal brief, and to organize your evidence for trial.

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