– Policy, Purpose of Having Rules of Evidence: In a jury system want to limit the information jury gets because of a concern that jury will be wrongfully swayed.
o Note: 42 states and Puerto Rico have adopted the FRE
– Tanner v. US: after trial and before sentencing D’s attorney got a call saying several jurors were drunk during trial. Want to hold an evidentiary hearing regarding juror alcohol use during trial and want juror to testify about this use.
o Holding: No, there will be no evidentiary hearing about the juror intoxication
o Rule: Under rule 606(b) a juror’s testimony may not be used to impeach a jury verdict unless an extraneous influence has been alleged to affect the jury. Intoxication is not an “outside influence” it is ‘internal’ because affects the person’s internal state of mind.
§ Note: external evidence includes looking something up in dictionary, looking at outside evidence. Does not include things that affect jurors internal state of mind.
o Note, policy: purpose behind this rule is if court considered this an external factor it would open the flood gates for juror testimony.
o Note: this case shows reluctance of court to question jury’s handling of evidence after a verdict has already been made.
o Note: though juror can’t testify, other witnesses can still testify as to the intoxication (waiter, bailiff etc.). Plus there are other safeguards such as voir dire, jurors testifying about improper conduct before verdict is reached, judges and parties observing improper jury behavior themselves.
– Rule 401 (what is relevant): “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 probable or less probable that it would be w/o the evidence.
o Materiality: evidence must bear on a fact that matters in the litigation. There must be a link b/w the factual proposition the evidence tends to establish and the substantive law.
o Probativeness: Evidence must have a tendency to make the existence of a material fact more or less probable.
§ Note: only has to increase or decrease the likelihood of a fact by a minimal amount to be considered probative.
– Rule 402 (if relevant admissible, if irrelevant not): All relevant evidence is admissible, except as otherwise provided by the Constitution of the US, by Act of Congress, by these rules, or by other rules prescribed by the Supreme Court pursuant to statutory authority. Evidence which is not relevant is not admissible.
– United States v. James(materiality): D gave her daughter a gun which daughter used to shoot D’s boyfriend. D wants to claim she and daughter were in fear of grievous bodily harm or death. D testified boyfriend had told her stories about killing a man and other crimes he had committed. Can court documents corroborating what the boyfriend told D about his violent past be admitted?
o Holding: Yes, the court records are relevant to prove that the boyfriend actually told those thi
will be relevant, the judge is just being asked to determine how reliable it is.
o Note: an example of when this rule applies is w/ regard to coconspirator statements. The court must determine 1) that the conspiracy occurred 2) that D was involved in the conspiracy.
– Rule 403: Although relevant, evidence my be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the jury, or by considerations of undue delay, waste of time, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence.
o Prejudicial impact: means unfair prejudicial impact and evidence that may distract, confuse, or mislead jury, “Unfair” prejudice means “an undue tendency to suggest decision on an improper basis, commonly, though not necessarily, an emotional one.”
o Criminal Cases: prejudice may be to government, not just Defendant.
o Note: availability of other means of proof, including stipulations, may be considered in weighing prejudicial impact.
o Probabilistic evidence: probabilistic evidence that confuses jury and may not be correctly assessed by jury or defense counsel may be kept out as unfairly prejudicial, since its flaws are not likely to be exposed on cross.