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Evidence
Charleston School of Law
Lund, Paul E.

Evidence – Fall 2017 – Lund

What can be presented to the trier of fact and what is excluded from the trier of fact?

RULE 401. TEST FOR RELEVANT EVIDENCE

Evidence is relevant if:

(a) it has any tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence; [Probative] and

(b) the fact is of consequence in determining the action. [Materiality].

CLASS 1 (08/22/2017)

Notes on Rule 401

Two parts to this definition:

First, the evidence must relate to a “fact [that] is of consequence in determining the action.” (Materiality.)
Second, the evidence must have a “tendency to make [that] fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence.” (Logical relevance/Probativeness.)
Evidence is excluded as irrelevant if it fails to meet either one of these requirements.

Cases

Tanner v. United States

United States Supreme Court

483 U.S. 107 (1987)

Rule of Law:

A juror may not testify about evidence of jurors’ alcohol and drug use during a trial.

Issue:

Is post-verdict evidence of jurors’ alcohol and drug use during a trial admissible if it is provided by a juror?

Holding and Reasoning:

No. Rule 606(b) provides that a juror may only testify to a matter occurring during the jury’s deliberations that had an effect on the jurys’ verdict if it constituted an improper extraneous influence. Evidence of jurors’ drug an alcohol abuse does not qualify as such an extraneous influence as the substances are voluntarily ingested by the jurors themselves.

Four rationales for Tanner ruling:

(1) Allows jurors to deliberate without fear of oversight.

(2) Prevents jurors from being harassed by lawyers.

(3) Enhances finality of verdicts.

(4) Helps preserve the community’s trust in the legitimacy of verdicts.

Rule 606(b) – Juror’s Competency as a Witness: (b) During an Inquiry Into the Validity of a Verdict or Indictment

(1) Prohibited Testimony or Other Evidence. During an inquiry into the validity of a verdict or indictment, a juror may not testify about any statement made or incident that occurred during the jury’s deliberations; the effect of anything on that juror’s or another juror’s vote; or any juror’s mental processes concerning the verdict or indictment. The court may not receive a juror’s affidavit or evidence of a juror’s statement on these matters.

(2) Exceptions. A juror may testify about whether:

(A) Extraneous prejudicial information was improperly brought to the jury’s attention;

(B) an outside influence was improperly brought to bear on any juror; or

(C) a mistake was made in entering the verdict on the verdict form.

Rule 602 – Need for Personal Knowledge

A witness may testify to a matter only if evidence is introduced sufficient to support a finding that the witness has personal knowledge of the matter. Evidence to prove personal knowledge may consist of the witness’s own testimony. This rule does not apply to a witness’s expert testimony under Rule 703.

Rule 611(b) – Mode and Order of Examining Witnesses and Presenting Evidence – (b) Scope of Cross Examination

Rule 103(a)(1) – Rulings on Evidence

Rule 103(a)(2) – Rulings on Evidence

Article X

Contents of Writings, Recordings, and Photographs

Rule 1001 – Definitions That Apply to this Article

Rule 1002 – Requirement of the Original

Rule 1003 – Admissibility of Duplicates

Rule 1004 – Admissibility of Other Evidence of Contents

Rule 1005 – Copies of Public Records to Prove Content

Rule 1006 – Summaries to Prove Content

Rule 1007 – Testimony or Statement of a Party to Prove Content

RULE 402. GENERAL ADMISSIBILITY OF RELEVANT EVIDENCE

Relevant evidence is admissible unless any of the following provides otherwise:

The United States Constitution;
A federal statute;
These rules; or
Other rules prescribed by the Supreme Court.

Irrelevant evidence is not admissible.

Rule 1008 – Functions of the Court and Jury

Notes on Rule 402

Overview

Introduction to evidence; the role of the Federal Rules and evidence rules generally; introduction to relevance.
Rules 401-402

What is the role of relevance? (401 & 402)

Foundation rule (the gatekeeper) for our entire system of evidence.
If evidence is relevant, it is admissible, subject to some other excep

cy to make a fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence; and

(b) the fact is of consequence in determining the action.

Two parts to this definition:

First, the evidence must relate to a “fact [that] is of consequence in determining the action.” (Materiality.) [what is the consequence of the action?] Second, the evidence must have a “tendency to make [that] fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence.” (Probativeness or logical relevance.) [if not probative, not relevant. Even if probative, if not towards something in this case, not relevant] Evidence is excluded as irrelevant if it fails to meet either one of these requirements.
BOTH REQUIREMENTS MUST BE MET!

Although some rules, as we’ll see, give the judge a fair amount of discretion.

How should one apply Rule 401? [below]

Three questions to ask when examining relevance

First, what fact or proposition is the evidence being used to prove?

What am I trying to prove with this piece of evidence?

Cannot apply definition unless you know what you are trying to prove with the piece of evidence.
A piece of evidence is not inherently relevant. It is only relevant within the context of the case and facts – relevance is relational.

“What am I trying to prove with that piece of evidence?” à once answered, then apply the two requirements

Is it material to the case? The point we are trying to prove with the evidence

Does it help to prove or disprove that fact? [Is it probative?]

Second, is that proposition one you are allowed to prove in the case? (Is it material?)
Third, does the evidence help in proving or disproving the proposition? (Is it probative?)