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A written statement that a person makes under oath and promises is true.

Elizabeth Priaulx, J.D. Brain Injury Association of America. “A Basic Glossary: Legal Terms for People with Brain Injury” (2006)

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    A written statement that someone swears to under oath in front of someone that is legally authorized, like a judge or notary public.

    California Superior Court. “English Legal Glossary” (2005)

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    Affidavit is a sworn or affirmed statement made in writing and signed; if sworn, it is notarized

    New York State Unified Court System. “Glossary of Legal Terms” (2016)

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    A written statement of facts confirmed by the oath of the party making it, before a notary or officer having authority to administer oaths.

    National Center for State Courts. “Glossary of Commonly Used Court & Justice System Terminology”, Rev. 2/8/11 (2011)

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    A written statement that is signed under the penalty of perjury and sworn to before a person who is officially permitted by law to administer an oath, like a notary or officer of the court.

    Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. “Women’s Legal Rights Handbook” (2015)

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    A written statement sworn or declared to be true before an authorized officer, such as a notary public.

    Missouri Press-Bar Commission. “News Reporter’s Legal Glossary” (2009)

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    A document that presents written evidence in a court case, setting out what a witness says is true. It must be sworn to be true and correct in front of an authorised official, on oath or by affirmation.

    Victoria Law Foundation. “Legal glossary” (2015)

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    A written and signed statement of facts, made voluntarily, and confirmed by the oath or affirmation of the party making it (the deponent), taken before a Notary Public or Commissioner for Oaths.

    Parlee McLaws LLP. “Glossary Of Common Financial and Legal Terms”, 4th ed.

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    A written, sworn statement of facts, made voluntarily, usually in support of a motion or at the request of the court.

    State Bar of Wisconsin. “News Reporters’ Legal Handbook”, 6th Ed. (2013)

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    A written statement in which the person signing states that the contents are, to the best of their knowledge, true. It is made under oath or affirmed before a notary public, justice of the peace, legal practitioner or other authorised officer. It can be used to support an application or can be tendered by a party to a proceeding as evidence in Court.

    Peter English, Surry Partners Lawyers. “Glossary of legal terms” (2009)

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    An affidavit is defined as “a written or printed declaration or statement of facts, madevoluntarily, and confirmed by oath or affirmation of the party making it, taken before aperson having authority to administer such oath or affirmation.”

    Joseph Nolan and Jacqueline Nolan-Haley, Black’s Law Dictionary (St. Paul, Minn.: West PublishingCo. 1990) at 58.

For example, in criminal cases, affidavits are often used by police officers seeking to convince courts to grant a warrant to make an arrest or a search. In civil cases, affidavits of witnesses are often used to support motions for summary judgment.

National Center for State Courts. “Glossary of Commonly Used Court & Justice System Terminology”, Rev. 2/8/11 (2011)

Historical Documents and Affidavits

Occasionally, researchers may come across historical documents that contain transcriptions, translations, and interpretations of oral history, or affidavits of community members utilized in earlier court cases. If these documents are over thirty years old, they may be admissible in litigation as “ancient documents”, if the document, is produced from proper custody, is presumed in the absence of circumstances of suspicion, to have been duly signed, sealed, attested, delivered, or published according to its purport.

Accordingly, when Aboriginal communities are conducting and compiling oral history research, they should treat the research results with a view that they may be utilized in litigation at a later date. To increase the chances of having an oral history document admitted as evidence at a later date, the document should be created and sworn as an affidavit or exhibited as part of an affidavit.

Hanna, Darwin. “Oral traditions: practical considerations for communities in light of the Delgamuukw decision.” The Delgamuukw/Gisday’wa national process: A backgrounder (2000).