· Introduction, p. 1
o General Principles
§ Evidence law is about the limits we place on the information juries hear.
· This is to achieve justice the most efficiently
· Prevents juries from misusing evidence as easily
· Judges play a passive gate-keeping function against unsound evidence
§ Evidence rules are largely a product of centuries of common law contrivance and compromise.
§ Evidence rules allow for more private jury deliberations
· This creates a sense of finality
§ FRE attempt to focus the parties and jury on the issues at hand.
· Prevent unnecessary digression and distraction
§ 42 states and Puerto Rico have adopted the Federal Rules in whole or in part
§ FRE was enacted in 1975
§ When the language of the rule and the legislative history both fail to make its meaning clear, look to the common law for guidance.
o Types of Evidence
§ Direct versus Circumstantial
· Direct Evidence: is evidence which, if believed, automatically resolved the issue.
o Ex.: W says, “I saw D strangle V.” This is direct evidence on whether D strangled V.
· Circumstantial Evidence: Is evidence which, even if believed, does not resolve the issue unless additional reasoning is used.
o Ex.: W says, “I saw D running from the place where V’s body was found, and I found a stocking in D’s pocket.” This is only circumstantial evidence of whether D strangled V.
o FRE 606(b). Competency of Juror as Witness: Inquiry into Validity of Verdict of Indictment
§ Upon an inquiry into the validity of a verdict or indictment, a juror MAY NOT testify as to ANY matter or statement occurring during the course of the jury’s deliberations OR to the effect of anything upon that or any other juror’s mind or emotions as influencing the juror to assent to or dissent from the verdict or indictment or concerning the juror’s mental processes in connection therewith.
§ BUT a juror MAY testify about
· (1) whether extraneous prejudicial information was improperly brought to the jury’s attention,
· (2) whether any outside influence was improperly brought to bear upon any juror, or
· (3) whether there was a mistake in entering the verdict onto the verdict form.
§ A juror’s affidavit or evidence of any statement by the juror MAY NOT be received on a matter about which the juror would be precluded from testifying.
§ Juror CANNOT testify as to:
· (1) any matter or statement occurring during deliberations, or
· (2) anything upon that or any other juror’s mind or emotions as influencing the juror to assent to or dissent from the verdict or indictment, or
· (3) juror’s mental processes in connection therewith.
§ Juror CAN testify on:
· (1) extraneous prejudicial information,
· (2) outside influence, or
· (3) mistake in entering the verdict on verdict form.
o Tanner v. United States, p. 7
§ Facts: Tanner (D) was convicted of mail fraud. After the conviction, a pair of jurors made it known to D’s attorney that, for much of the trial, some of the jurors ingested significant amounts of alcohol, cocaine, and marijuana. D submitted a declaration concerning this from a juror in support of a motion for a new trial.
§ Procedural Posture:The D.C. denied petitioner’s, D’s, motion for a new trial. The Appellate Court affirmed the D.C.’s denial. The USSC granted certiorari to consider whether the D.C. was required to hold an evidentiary hearing, including juror testimony, on juror alcohol and drug use during the trial.
finition: Evidence is “relevant” if it has “any tendency to make the existence of [a material] fact … more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence.” (FRE 401)
· “Brick is not a wall”: The piece of evidence need not make a material fact more probable than not; it must merely increase the probability (even by a small amount) that the material fact is so. “A brick is not a wall,” and the piece of evidence merely has to be one brick in the wall establishing a particular fact.
§ Exclusion: Even relevant evidence may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of: (1) Unfair prejudice; (2) Confusion of the issues; (3) Misleading the jury; or (4) Considerations of undue delay, waste of time, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence. (FRE 403)
o Probativeness and Materiality, p. 19
§ For evidence to be relevant, it must be both probative and material.
§ When we say that a piece of evidence is “relevant” to the case, we mean that there exists two distinct links between that piece of evidence and the case:
§ FRE 401. Definition of “Relevant Evidence”
· “Relevant evidence” means evidence having ANY tendency to make the existence of ANY fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action MORE OR LESS PROBABLE than it would be without the evidence.”
· There are two elements of Relevance
o Probativeness – “any tendency”
Materiality – “of consequence”