out of court

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Out of court means “not before the court.” Actions, including negotiations between parties or their attorneys, without any direct involvement of a judge or the judicial system.  For example, a settlement between the parties made out of court which they may present to the court for inclusion in a judgment. Additionally, in criminal cases, identification made at lineup is referred to as “extrajudicial or out-of-court identification,” whereas identification at trial is referred to as “judicial or in-court identification.” 

In another context, hearsay is testimony from a witness under oath who is reciting an out-of-court statement that is being offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted.  The Federal Rules of Evidence, Rule 801 (c) defines hearsay as:  "A statement that: (1) the declarant does not make while testifying at the current trial or hearing; and (2) a party offers in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted in the statement." 

[Last updated in August of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]