Empty-Chair Doctrine Law and Legal Definition

Empty chair doctrine is a legal principle which says that if a party does not produce a witness who is within its power to produce and who should have been produced, the judge may instruct the jury to infer that the witness's evidence is unfavorable to the party's case. According to this doctrine, lawyers may comment on the absence of a prospective opposing witness and judges may invite the jury to draw adverse inferences from that lack of evidence.

This is also known as adverse-interest rule or adverse-inference rule.