1. FRE 102à Purpose and Construction
a. Definitionà “These rules shall be constructed to secure fairness in administration, elimination of unjustifiable expense and delay, and promotion of growth and development of the law of evidence to the end that the truth may be ascertained and proceedings justly determined.”
i. Five Reasons for the Federal Rules of Evidence
1. Mistrust of Juriesàfear that juries will place too much weight on certain pieces of evidence or employ it improperly for punitive purposes.
2. Serve Substantive Polices Relating to the Matters Being Litigated.
a. For Example- rules that set and allocate burdens of persuasion
3. Further Substantive Policies Unrelated to the Matter in Suit (Extrinsic Substantive Policies)
a. Typically rules in this category seek to affect behavior or quality of life outside the courtroom and privileges are the prime examples.
4. Insure Accurate Fact-finding.
a. Thus the rules on authenticated documents and the Best Evidence doctrine exist largely to insure accuracy.
5. To Control the Scope and Duration of Trials
ii. Evidence law also helps in this way by setting up a system in which verdicts cannot be easily attacked or falsified or read merely as decisions about the evidence itself.
iii. The Federal Rules of Evidence apply in federal courts across the land in both criminal and civil cases, and generally they apply regardless whether federal or state law supplies the rule of decision.
2. FRE 103à Rulings on Evidence
a. Effect of Erroneous Ruling. Error may not be predicated upon a ruling which admits or excludes evidence unless a substantial right of the party is affected, and
1. Objection. In case the ruling is one admitting evidence, a timely objection or motion to strike appears on record stating the specific ground of objection, if the specific ground was not apparent from the context; or
2. Offer of Proof. In case the ruling is one excluding evidence, the substance of the evidence was made known to the court by offer or was apparent from the context within which questions were asked. Once the court makes a definitive ruling on the record admitting or excluding evidence, either at or before trial, a party need not renew an objection or offer or proof to preserve a claim of error for appeals.
b. Record of Offer and Ruling. The court may add any other or further statement which shows the character of the evidence, the form in which it was offered, the objection made, and the ruling thereon. It may direct the making of an offer in question and answer form.
c. Hearing of Jury. In jury cases, proceedings shall be conducted, to the extent practicable, so as to prevent inadmissible evidence from being suggested to the jury by any means, such as making statements or offers of proof or asking questions in the hearing of the jury.
d. Plain Error. Nothing in this rule precludes taking notice of plain errors affecting substantial rights although they were not brought to the attention of the court.
i. Three reasons objections are used to preserve arguments that the court erred in admitting evidence at trial.
1. Objections help the trial court avoid error by reconsidering its ruling and taking corrective measures if necessary.
2. Objections give the proponent a chance to avoid problems in proof.
3. Requiring parties to object serves the broader interest of providing a fair, but not endless chance to litigate, in effect burdening them with the job of being watchful and alert to prevent infractions of the rules.
ii. Motions to Strikeàessential in preserving rights to argue error in admitting evidence. A party must also move to strike if the judge admits evidence and it later appears that the evidence should not have come in, or if the evidence comes in so quickly that there was not time to object in advance.
1. Failing to object or move to strike is described as kind of a waiver. But despite failing to object or move to strike, the door is not closed completely on the aggrieved litigant, who may still obtain relief if she can persuade a reviewi
the ruling takes on the aspect of the “law of the case.”
a. First and most obviously, usually no appeal can be had although the government may obtain immediate review from certain kinds of pretrial rulings excluding evidence.
b. Second, the party who lost the motion can put the issue again by offering the evidence at the appropriate time at trial, although renewing the offer is not essential.
c. Third, the party who obtains a pretrial ruling the excludes evidence probably should renew the objection at trial if the other side offers the evidence, although FRE 103 means that the objection need not be renewed if the court has made a “definitive” ruling that the evidence is admissible.
d. Fourth, it seems that the judge may chance his ruling during trial.
5. A party who makes and loses a pretrial motion to exclude or suppress evidence faces a strategic dilemma.
a. They can object again and hope that the court changes their mind and excludes
b. Or, they can bite the bullet by going to the subject themselves. Doing so gives them the advantage of choosing time and manner and they may be able to minimize damage in this way, and drain out the rhetorical advantage the opposition would otherwise have.
6. Therefore the objecting party should be allowed to rely on what the court did and minimize damage without waiving the claim that the evidence should have been excluded. Trying, but failing to exclude does not absolve a party of responsibility for introducing it.
7. The usual rule is that a court has no obligation to rule in advance, nor to stick with whatever pretrial ruling it makes, so the outcome of a pretrial motion does not necessarily determine what will happen at trial.
8. Offers of Proof