McCormack Evidence Outline

McCormack Evidence Outline - Evidence Outline I...

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Evidence Outline I. Relevancy [FRE Art. IV] A. General Principles [FRE 401-403] TxR 401: Meaning of the relevance of evidence: “...any tendency to make the existence of any fact...” This rule has us ask whether the evidence has any weight at all. 401 is just a definition. TxR 402: Rule on relevant evidence. Most evidence rules are rules of exclusion, and 402 lists exclusions. Thus, if a piece of evidence is relevant, it is admissible unless something excludes it. Evidence rules, including 402, exclude matters which appeal to prejudice, biases of jurors, or which are confusing to juries. “Relevancy... is not an inherent characteristic of any item of evidence but exists as a relation between an item of evidence and a proposition sought to be proved. If an item of evidence tends to prove or to disprove any proposition, it is relevant to that proposition. If the proposition itself is one provable at the case at bar, or if it in turn forms a further link in a chain of proof the final proposition of which is provable in the case at bar, then the offered item of evidence has probative value in the case.” Whether it’s provable depends on the pleadings, the procedural rules, and the substantive law governing the case. “But because relevancy means tendency to prove a proposition properly provable in the case, an offered item of evidence may be excluded as ‘irrelevant’ for either of these two quite distinct reasons: because it is not probative of the proposition at which it is directed, or because that proposition is not provable in the case.” George F. James. Relevance deals only with circumstantial evidence, not direct evidence 1. Probative value a. Rules 401 and 402 are limited by other rules, including 403. 1) Rule 403 employs a balancing test, “if the probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the jury...” This suggests that the rule favors admission of evidence. i. Evidence may be excluded for confusion of the issues if it would tend to distract the jury from the proper issues ii. Cases invoking the danger of misleading the jury often refer to the possibility that the jury might attach undue weight to the evidence (ex. polygraph tests are generally kept out) iii. Evidence may be excluded on account of waste of time because it has scant probative value. In the normal evidentiary sense, cummulate evidence is excluded because it is repetitious. (Probably not going anywhere on appeal just because of waste of time, but that evidence piled on too high) iv. Although R.403 doesn’t list surprise as a specific ground for excluding evidence, testimony which results in surprise may be excluded if the surprise would require a continuance causing undue delay or if surprise is coupled with the danger of prejudice and confusion of issues. (S. feels it probably should be unfairly surprised, and it should be in 403) 2) The presiding justice must exercise his discretion under Rule 403. This means that the judge has a decision to make under 403 and if it is reasonable it will stand up (within the bounds of reason).
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