Evidence-Wellborn SP2006 Outline

Evidence-Wellborn SP2006 Outline - Evidence Outline...

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Evidence Outline Wellborn Sources: Casebook, Courtroom Evidence Handbook (Fed. Rules), Casenotes, & Nutshell Exam: 100 questions (really 200 w/ TX questions); 65 MC; 35 T/F, 3 hours: no rule #’s Topic: Relevancy: Probative Value and Materiality Federal Rules: 401, 402, 403 Texas Rules: TBD Cases: 1. State v. Kotsimpulos : 2. State v. Nicolas 3. United States v. Johnson 4. United States v. McRae 5. Simon v. Kennebunkport 6. Fusco v. General Motors Nutshell (Relevancy): FR 401 Definition of “Relevant Evidence” o The first requisite for evidence to be admissible is that it must be relevant. o In some ways, relevance is a societal concept, for example it is probative to most that love letters written by the accused to the victim’s wife is more likely to have committed the crime. But what is our guide? The assumption must be reasonable. o Materiality: Well, immaterial is the term used by some to indicate that a particular piece of evidence is relevant to a proposition of fact, but that the proposition itself is not an issue under the substantive law. For example, there may be evidence establishing contributory negligence by the injured worker, but if it is a worker’s compensation claim, the evidence would be immaterial and thus irrelevant. To be material, a fact thus must be of consequence to the determination of the action. o Based on the language of Rule 401, “evidence having any tendency” encompasses all items with even the slightest probative value—but Courts typically do not read it this way and label evidence lacking substantial probative value as “irrelevant.” Nutshell (Relevancy): FR 402 o Evidence may indeed be relevant, but it must pass other tests or hurdles as well. o FR 402 is written to assume that relevant evidence is admissible by saying “is admissible, except as otherwise provided by the US Constitution, Acts of Congress, by the FR’s, or other rules prescribed by the Supreme Court”—not any common law doctrine that is more restrictive re: the relevancy standard. o Last, the rules states that “Evidence which is not relevant is not admissible.” Nutshell (Relevancy): FR 403 o However, even if evidence is indeed relevant, a judge may exclude the evidence if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of: 1. Unfair prejudice = emotional, appeals to the jury’s sympathies, arouses its sense of horror, provokes its instinct to punish, or cause a jury to base its decision on something else 2. Confusion of the issues = distract the jury from the proper issues 3. Misleading the Jury = attach undue weight to the evidence, scientific evidence 4. Undue delay, waste of time, needless presentation of cumulative evidence = as a general rule, evidence may not be excluded solely to avoid delay; waste of time because it has scant probative value *5. Surprise = court usually grants a continuance over exclusion of relevant evidence o The words substantial and unfair seem to convey that relevant evidence is ordinarily admissible. So, even if the probative value is outweighed by unfair prejudice, it as admitted unless it “substantially” outweighs!
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