Purposes of the Rules of Evidence:
– Rules of Evidence are necessary for there to be a rational result and this is one of the goals of evidence rules.
– They ensure that there is basic order (preserves the integrity of the process), predictability, fairness, etc.
– The rules save time- keep things from dragging on forever.
– Some information isn’t disclosed because it is privileged (basic understanding of why privilege exists is necessary).
– The law of evidence different is when there is a bench trial, as opposed to a jury trial since the bench can ignore irrelevant evidence.
Motion in Limine
– The motion occurs before the trial while the jury is not present.
– Counsel tells judge that she expects that opposing counsel will introduce prejudicial evidence. Counsel asks the judge to rule on the admissibility of the evidence outside of the presence of the jury.
– Both sides then make all of their arguments regarding the relevancy/admissibility of the evidence. (e.g. – I object because it’s hearsay, not relevant, etc.) Judge may also rule on admissibility based on some reason that he/she has thought of.
– The judge may or may not rule on the motion at this point.
– The judge may put the motion off until it’s time for the evidence to be introduced in context or may admit it conditionally.
Preserving Issues for Appeal
– The modern trend is that, if you object to evidence via a pre-trial motion in limine, you do not have to renew your objection to that evidence at trial. Your right to appeal is preserved. However, this is not always the case.
– To preserve Error for appeal (FRE 103) a substantial right of a party must be affected and there must be a timely objection or motion to strike on the record stating the specific grounds of the objection if the specific grounds are not readily apparent from the context.
o Although you are generally expected to give the grounds for your objection at the time of the objection, this might be risky as you might give the wrong grounds or you might start arguing your case through objections.
– If you attempt to introduce evidence into a trial and the trial judge erroneously refuses to admit it, you must still make an “offer of proof” In order to preserve your right to appeal.
o This is sometimes done by excusing the jury form the courtroom and having the witness testify as they normally would have. Other times this is done by submitting a statement describing what the witness would have testified about.
– Sometimes you have to be pretty insistent about this. A judge’s erroneous
Conditional Relevancy is the principle that probative value of a piece of evidence is dependent on the existence of some matter of fact.
The Purposes of Evidence Admitted
– Evidence may be admitted for one purpose but not another.
– When evidence is admissible for one purpose, but not for another, party opposing the admission of that evidence may request a jury instruction as to that evidence.
o One the other hand, they may not want such an instruction- it would call attention to the evidence.
The Basic Test: Rules 401-403
Rule 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 probably or less probably than it would be without the evidence.
Rule 402: Relevant Evidence Generally Admissible; Irrelevant Evidence Inadmissible
All Relevant Evidence is admissible, except as otherwise provided by the Constitution of the United States, by Acts of Congress, by these rules, or by other rules prescribed by the