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 probable or less probable 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 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.
Rule 403. Exclusion of Relevant Evidence on Grounds of Prejudice, Confusion, Waste of Time
Although relevant, evidence may 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.
Rule 105. Limited Admissibility
When evidence which is admissible as to one party or for one purpose but not admissible as to another party or for another purpose is admitted, the court, upon request, shall restrict the evidence to its proper scope and instruct the jury accordingly.
only relevant evidence may be admitted [FRE 402] definition à FRE 401: “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 probable than it would be without evidence.
a)the 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
b)consider materiality à whether the evidence is offered upon a matter properly in issue (determine this from the pleadings, the applicable principles of substantive law and by any pretrial orders)
Exclusion: even relevant evidence may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of:
b)confusion of the issues
c)misleading of the jury OR
d)considerations of undue delay, waste of time, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence
I. note: judge must assume that the offered evidence will be believed by the jury
II. unfair surprise is not a valid ground upon which to exclude relevant evidence
III. judge has wide discretion and rulings are reviewable on appeal only for abuse of discretion or disregard of restrictive guidelines
IV. judge should put on record his reasons for exclusion
rule of limited admissibility: when the evidence is admissible for one purpose (or as to one party), it is not rendered inadmissible solely because it is improper or irrelevant for some other purpose (or as to some other party) [FRE 105] a)instruction to the jury must be given upon request
b)severance if necessary
Relevancy Problems – Examples
ing is one admitting evidence, a timely objection or motion to strike appears of 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 of proof to preserve a claim of error for appeal.
(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.