The New International Encyclopædia/Oyer

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OYER, ō′yer (A.F., to hear). A term employed in common-law pleading to signify a demand by one party to an action, to hear read, or to have produced for inspection, a document to which the other party refers in his pleadings. Originally where a party based his claim or defense upon a deed, letters testamentary, or letters of administration, he was obliged to ‘make profert’ of the instrument, that is, allege that he produced it in court, whereupon the other party might ‘crave oyer,’ that is, demand to hear it read, in order that he might avail himself of its contents in his pleadings if he deemed it advisable. At a later date, instead of having it actually read in open court and spreading it upon the records, the party making profert was required to give the opposite party a true copy of the instrument.

In England and most of the United States the practice of requiring a pleader to make profert has been abolished, and with it the practice of demanding oyer, and instead a party referring to an instrument in a pleading is required to annex a true copy thereto. If it becomes necessary for a party to inspect a document in the hands of the other, he obtains an order to that effect from the court. See Evidence.