Select Page

Evidence
Stetson University School of Law
Everhart, Stephen Michael

EVIDENCE OUTLINE

I.                   EVIDENCE LAW AND THE SYSTEM
a.       Why Rules of Evidence?
i.      Why Evidence Law at All?
1.      Mistrust of juries ((2) Jury System)
a.       Lay factfinders, Don’t want influenced badly
i.      Judges are biased
ii.      Rule 403 – If Evidence is Highly Prejudicial, Can Be Excluded
1.      Prior Bad Acts
2.      Substantive Policies Relating to the Matter Being Litigated
a.       Setting and allocating burdens of persuasion
3.      Further Substantive Policies Unrelated to the Matter In Litigation ((4) To Further a Policy External to the Trial Practice That We Think Are Important)
a.       (Usually) Privileges
i.      Example:
1.      Husband-Wife Privilege
b.      Seek to affect behavior or quality of life outside the courtroom
4.      Ensure Accurate Factfinding (3)
a.       Ensure accuracy
i.      Example:
1.      Authenticating Documents
b.      Force Litigants and Courts to be Careful
5.      To Control the Scope and Duration of Trials ((1)  Pragmatism – Parties May Want to Fight Forever (Life, Lots of Money At Stake)
a.       Example:
i.      Rule of Relevance – Only Introduce Evidence Relevant to the Point Are Trying to Make
b.      Parties may want to fight
6.      Lower Tier Reasons:
a.       Dispute Resolution Process
b.      Acceptability of Verdicts (Article) – Society Will Accept as Final and Move On
c.       Trial’s Ritual and Theater
d.      Preserve the Jury – not Protect the Jury like Before, Jury Deliberations are Secret
b.      What Happens At Trial
i.      Jury Selection
1.      Voir Dire
a.       For Cause
b.      Peremptory Challenges
ii.      Opening Statement
1.      Overview of the story
2.      “the evidence will show” the points made
iii.      Presentation of Proof
1.      Builds case
2.      First: Party with the burden of persuasion
3.      First: “case-in-chief”
4.      Second: “case-in-rebuttal”
a.       Refute what the adverse party presented during his more recent appearance
5.      Direct Examination by the calling party;
6.      Cross Examination by the adverse party
7.      Re-direct Examination by the calling party;
8.      Re-Cross Examination by the adverse party
iv.      Trial Motions
1.      Court has opportunity to assess the sufficiency of the proof, and to take the case from the jury if a reasonable person could resolve the dispute only one way
2.      Rarely granted
a.       Usually if granted, to defendants in criminal cases and defendants in civil contract suits
v.      Closing Argument
1.      Burden: Opens First, Closes First and Closes Last
2.      Sometimes before, sometimes after Jury Instructions
vi.      Instructions
1.      Judge instructs the jury on the law, so that it understands what it must decide in order to reach a verdict for either party
2.      Explain the applicable substantive principles, and allocate and define the burdens of proof on the various issues
3.      Parties draft the instructions and submit their requests to the court before the close of the evidence
vii.      Deliberations
1.      Hidden
2.      Reasons:
a.       Protects freedom of Speech
b.      Protect Jury System b/c may not survive close scrutiny of the deliberative process
viii.      The Verdict
ix.      Judgment and Post-Trial Motions
1.      Judgment
a.       Civil
b.      Criminal
2.      Time Limits
x.      Appellate Review

II.                RELEVANCE
a.       “Relevance” – an everyday word describing factors that bear on the decisions we make and problems we set out to solve
b.      Relational – it carries meaning only in context
i.      Applicable substantive law
ii.      Issues that the Parties raise
c.       Evidence
i.      “Direct” – if accepted as genuine or believed true, necessarily establishes the point for which it is offered
ii.      “Circumstantial” – even if fully credited, may nevertheless fail to support the point in question, simply because an alternative explanation seems as probably or more so
d.      Logical Relevance
i.      Relevance and Materiality
1.      Common Law
a.       “Relevant”
b.      “Material”
2.      Federal Rules of Evidence
a.       “Relevance” – evidence is relevant if it tends to make more or less probable the existence of any consequential fact (RULE 401)
ii.      Establishing Relevance: The Evidential Hypothesis
1.       “Evidential Hypothesis” – why the proof is relevant
2.      Using Experiences to Predict what will happen next
a.       Inductive and Deductive Logic
3.      “Deductive Argument” – premises stated necessarily lead to a particular conclusion
a.       Conclusion contained in premises
b.      Example:
i.      All humans are mortal. Socrates is Human. Socrates is mortal.
4.      “Inductive Argument” – conclusion does not necessarily follow from the underlying premises, but the premises support the conclusion
a.       Conclusion contains conjecture about the world that goes beyond what is in the premises
b.      Example:
i.      Defendant robbed a bank.
ii.      People who intend to do something likely do it. People who state an intent likely have it.
1.      Likely
iii.      Notes:
iv.      PROBLEM 2-A
v.      Evidence is a Relational Constant
1.      Need to know the underlying issues and elements of the substantive law
a.       Legal Issues
b.      Underlying Iss

e case)
d.      Evidence:
i.      Circumstantial à
1.      Not necessarily true, have to draw an inference =
ii.      Circumstantial vs. Direct Evidence
iii.      Direct Evidence: 
1.      witness
iv.      Better? Neither, TRICK QUESTION
v.      Direct: Always rests on credibility of witness (includes confessions)
vi.      Circumstantial: Inference can be really strong (includes photographs and surveillance)
2.      Facts: Carl’s arrest was based on an outstanding default warrant, issued two years earlier on unrelated charges.
a.       Inference: Anyone would have run if had a prior warrant
b.      Judge: Equally likely for him to run for the old warrant as for the new warrant à NOT ADMISSIBLE
c.       Sidebar: Mere argument infers that there are facts/information there, and if it is not admissible, have polluted the Jury (RULE 103 (c))
i.      “potentially prejudice” the jury – cannot hear it
xvi.      Notes on Evidence of Attempts to Avoid Capture
1.      Evidence of efforts to avoid capture
a.       (1) Generally admissible in criminal trials
b.      (2) Does not create a “presumption of guilt” or suffice for conviction
i.      Reasons for flight apart from guilt
1.      Jury
2.      Do not wish their names to appear in connection with criminal acts
3.      Arrest and Trial
4.      Because they do not wish to be put to the annoyance or expense of defending themselves
c.       (3) Open to Interpretation
i.      No doubt
1.      High speed chase
2.      Runs when uniformed officers approach
ii.      Doubt
1.      Cannot be located in his usual haunts
2.      Left the environs after the crime
3.      Arrested in another jurisdiction