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Evidence Exam Outline

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Table of Contents
Trial Judge's Discretion; Standard of Review............................................................................2
Relevance................................................................................................................................4
Probative Value and Prejudice...........................................................................................................5
Conditional Relevance........................................................................................................................9

Hearsay...................................................................................................................................9
Nonhearsay Uses of Out-of-Court Statements.................................................................................11
Implied Assertions............................................................................................................................14
Hearsay and Confrontation..............................................................................................................15
Exceptions to the Hearsay Rule........................................................................................................18
Prior Statements by Witnesses.........................................................................................................18
Admissions by Opposing Parties.......................................................................................................20
Direct Admissions...........................................................................................................................................20
Multiple Hearsay........................................................................................................................................21
Completeness............................................................................................................................................21
Adoptive Admissions......................................................................................................................................22
Authorized Admissions...................................................................................................................................23
Agent and Employee Admissions...................................................................................................................24
Co-Conspirator Admissions............................................................................................................................25
Admissions and the Bruton Rule....................................................................................................................26

Spontaneous and Contemporaneous Statements............................................................................28
State of Mind....................................................................................................................................30
The Hillmon Doctrine......................................................................................................................................30

Injury Reports...................................................................................................................................32
Recorded Recollection......................................................................................................................33
Business Records...............................................................................................................................35
Qualifying "Businesses"..................................................................................................................................36
Sources of Information...................................................................................................................................38
Absence of Record..........................................................................................................................................39

Public Records...................................................................................................................................39
Former Testimony.............................................................................................................................42
Dying Declarations............................................................................................................................45
Declarations Against Interest............................................................................................................46
Forfeiture By Wrongdoing................................................................................................................48
Residual Exception............................................................................................................................49
Hearsay and Due Process.................................................................................................................51

Character Evidence................................................................................................................52
Other Uses of Specific Conduct........................................................................................................58
Permissible Purposes........................................................................................................................58
Requisite Proof.................................................................................................................................62
Character and Habit.........................................................................................................................62
Sexual Assault and Child Molestation..............................................................................................64
Character of the Victim.....................................................................................................................64
Character of the Defendant..............................................................................................................68 Other Forbidden Inferences...................................................................................................70
Settlement Efforts............................................................................................................................72
Civil Settlements...............................................................................................................................72
Criminal Settlements.........................................................................................................................74
Medical Payments and Liability Insurance........................................................................................76
Character for Untruthfulness...........................................................................................................77
Prior Criminal Convictions.................................................................................................................79
Admissible and Inadmissible Convictions.......................................................................................................80
Preserving Claims of Error..............................................................................................................................82

Prior Inconsistent Statements..........................................................................................................83
Bias and Incapacity...........................................................................................................................86
Specific Contradiction......................................................................................................................88
Rehabilitation..................................................................................................................................89
Character for Truthfulness................................................................................................................90
Prior Consistent Statements.............................................................................................................92

Opinions, Experts, and Scientific Evidence.............................................................................93
Lay Opinions.....................................................................................................................................93
Expert Testimony.............................................................................................................................97
Permissible Subjects and Scope........................................................................................................97
Reliability........................................................................................................................................101
Court-Appointed Experts..............................................................................................................................101

Privileges.............................................................................................................................103
Attorney-Client Privilege................................................................................................................104
Elements of the Privilege................................................................................................................105
Communication............................................................................................................................................105
In Confidence................................................................................................................................................106
Between Attorney and Client.......................................................................................................................108
To Facilitate Legal Service............................................................................................................................110

Waiver.............................................................................................................................................112
Crime-Fraud Exception....................................................................................................................114
Spousal Privileges...........................................................................................................................115

Physical Evidence.................................................................................................................116
Authentication...............................................................................................................................117
Best Evidence Rule.........................................................................................................................121
Scope and Purpose.........................................................................................................................123
Exceptions.......................................................................................................................................124

*NB: This outline accords with Sklansky, Evidence: Cases, Commentary and Problems 4th ed.

Trial Judge's Discretion; Standard of
Review FRE 104. Preliminary Questions
 (a) In General. The Court must decide any preliminary questions about whether a witness is qualified, a privilege exists, or evidence is admissible. In so deciding, the court is not bound by evidence rules,
except those on privilege.
FRE 103. Rulings on Evidence
 (a) Preserving a Claim of Error. Party may claim error in a ruling to admit or exclude evidence only if the error affects a substantial right of the party and:
o (1) if the ruling admits the evidence, a party, on the record: (A) timely objects or moves to strike; and (B) states the specific ground, unless it was apparent from the context; or

(2) if the ruling excludes the evidence, a party informs the court of its substance by an offer of proof, unless the substance was apparent from the context.
 (b) Not Needing to Renew an Objection or Offer of Proof. Once the court rules definitively on the record—either before or at trial—a party need not renew objection or offer proof to preserve a claim of error for appeal.
 (c) Court's Statement About the Ruling; Directing an Offer of Proof.
Court may make any statement about character or form of evidence,
objection made, and ruling. Court may direct an offer of proof be made in question-and-answer form.
 (d) Preventing the Jury from Hearing Inadmissible Evidence. To the extent practicable, court must conduct jury trial so inadmissible evidence is not suggested to jury by any means.
 (e) Taking Notice of Plain Error. Court may take notice of plain error affecting substantial right, even if claim of error was not properly preserved.
Park et al., Evidence Law
 Courts differ on degree of certainty required to find error harmless.
o 9th Cir. uses "more probable than not" for nonconstitutional errors;
3rd Cir. requires reversal unless harmlessness is "highly probable";
5th Cir. requires reversal unless "sure" error did not influence or had very slight effect on jury verdict.
 If party opposing admission did not object, objected on wrong ground, or failed to specify ground, appellate court will reverse only if trial judge's admission was "plain error." Plain error is not easily defined and allows substantial judicial discretion, considering facts of case, gravity of offense, and probably effect of error. Some courts require error be obvious in record.
Saltzburg et al., FRE Manual 

Questions of law reviewed de novo. Mixed questions of law and fact reviewed de novo, such as whether communication is protected by privilege. Vast majority reviewed under abuse of discretion standard.

Bandera v. City of Quincy, 344 F.3d 47 (1st Cir. 2003)
Facts:
 P testified to her own experience and adduced testimony from witness including Coletta, who had filed then-pending sexual harassment claims of her own against D.
Opinion (Boudin, CJ):
 Coletta's testimony on her own experiences was relevant to show liability on the part of supervisors and pattern of knowing toleration.
 Coletta had no "actual knowledge" of what happened to D, and testimony assessing what D reported happened was "wholly inappropriate opinion testimony" (FRE 701), which "should certainly not have been admitted."
 FRE 103(b) provides objection resolved by definitive in limine ruling admitting evidence need not be renewed at trial.
o Under FRE 103(a)(1), an objection, if its basis is not obvious, is not preserved unless the ground is stated.
o Under FRE 103(c), failure to preserve the objection means review is at most for plain error.

Relevance
FRE 401. Test for Relevant Evidence
 Evidence is relevant if:
o (a) it has any tendency to make a fact more or less probable than without evidence; and

(b) the fact is of consequence in determining the action.
FRE 402. General Admissibility of Relevant Evidence
 Relevant evidence is admissible unless any of the following provides otherwise: US Constitution, federal statute, FRE, or other rules prescribed by Supreme Court. Irrelevant evidence is not admissible.
Advisory Committee Note to FRE 401
 The fact to be proven may be ultimate, intermediate, or evidentiary,
rather than only "material."
 The fact need not be in dispute; evidence offered to prove a point already conceded by the opponent should be excluded on the basis of such considerations as waste of time and undue prejudice (FRE 403).

A rule limiting admissibility to controversial points (such as CEC §210)
could exclude useful evidence or raise endless questions over admissibility.
Knapp v. State, 79 N.E. 1076 (Ind. 1907)
Facts:
 D, as witness on own behalf, offered testimony tending to show selfdefense. Testified he heard deceased had clubbed and killed an old man.
 On rebuttal, P was allowed, over objection and exception of D, to prove by physician's testimony the old man died of senility and alcoholism and was not clubbed.
Opinion (Gillet, J):
 The testimony was admissible.
o Showing D's claims were factually baseless showed somewhere between the fact and the testimony was a liar, and given people tend to tell the truth and given D's inability to point to source, has a tendency to make it less probable D's testimony was true (i.e., less probably he really heard the man was clubbed).
United States v. Dominguez, 907 F.2d 216 (1st Cir. 1990)
Facts:
 After presenting evidence a gunshot killed V, P introduced evidence showing D owned gun, D asked friend to bring gun to have barrel replaced, and gunsmith saw scratches on barrel possibly caused by attempted removal, and gunsmith repaired but did not replace barrel.
Opinion (Breyer, J):
 That evidence is not irrelevant.
o The fact D owned a gun makes guilt somewhat more probable than if he did not. Having a good reason for owning gun, consistent with innocence, makes evidence less probative, not irrelevant.
o Regardless, P had to show D owned gun in order to show D tried to have barrel replaced. Effort to replace suggests effort to cover-up,
which in turn suggests consciousness of guilt. Given this set of logical connections, replacement effort makes guilt more probable, and the evidence is consequently relevant.
 D points out that chain of inferences is far weaker than if P had introduced gun itself into evidence.
o But P is free to introduce weak, as well as strong, evidence. No one claimed this particular piece of evidence proved guilt; it was merely one among many.
State v. Larson, 843 P.2d 777 (Mont. 1992)
Facts: D was riding with five-year-old on borrowed horse he knew to be hotblooded. Horse reared and crushed and killed five-year-old. Cops took blood sample from D three hours later. Witness Kurtz, a forensic scientist, measured D's blood alcohol content.
 At trial, court allowed Kurtz to compare D's BAC with level determined to impair ability to drive a vehicle, which is .08.
 D argues BAC level impairing ability to drive is irrelevant to D's conduct on a high-blooded young horse.
Opinion (McDonough, J):
 Court did not abuse discretion in admitting the comparison.
o D's BAC on the day of the accident is relevant to show D's reactions and judgment were impaired.
o Comparison of D's BAC with level determined to impair ability to drive vehicle is also relevant, since it aids jury in evaluating D's level of intoxication using their experience and logic. Its probative value outweighs any prejudice to defendant.

Class notes:


Direct evidence is where someone says they saw it, whereas circumstantial evidence allows one to infer the fact therefrom.
Circumstantial evidence can be stronger than direct evidence:
circumstantial evidence has no incentive to lie, whereas witnesses with direct evidence may.
A piece of evidence for which there is an innocent explanation is not irrelevant, just less weighty.
Relevance can depend on the purpose for which evidence is introduced,
on whether it is a criminal or civil case, and (for character evidence) on who introduces it.

Probative Value and Prejudice
FRE 105. Limiting Evidence That Is Not Admissible Against Other
Parties or for Other Purposes
 If the court admits evidence that is admissible against a party or for a purpose—but not against another party or for another purpose—the court, on timely request, must restrict the evidence to its proper scope and instruct the jury accordingly.
FRE 403. Excluding Relevant Evidence for Prejudice, Confusion,
Waste of Time, or Other Reasons
 The court may exclude relevant evidence if its probative value is substantially outweighed by a danger of one or more of the following:
unfair prejudice, confusing the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay,
wasting time, or needlessly presenting cumulative evidence. Advisory Committee note to FRE 403
 "Unfair prejudice" means undue tendency to suggest decision on an improper basis, commonly an emotional one. Unfair surprise is not a ground for exclusion under FRE 403, unlike some views of the common law.
United States v. Noriega, 117 F.3d 1206 (11th Cir. 1997) [FRE 403
Balancing Test]
Facts:
 D wanted to use classified information about intelligence work for USA
to rebut P's assertion that he had unexplained wealth.
o P objected to disclosure of purposes for which USA paid D.
o P offered to stipulate D received $320k, but D insisted actual amount was $10m and he should be allowed to disclose tasks performed.
 District court ruled fact, amounts, time and source of payment admissible, but information about content was irrelevant to defense or,
alternatively, the tendency of such evidence to confuse the issues substantially outweighed any probative value it might have had.
Opinion (Kravitch, J):
 Evidence was not wholly irrelevant.
o Information potentially had some probative value: had D testified he received $10m and P rebutted with evidence of $320k, evidence of services performed may have helped jury decide which is more credible.
 But potential for confusion was high, and probative value of the Potential probative value was relatively marginal, since purposes of payment does not aid significantly in determining fact and amount of such payments.
More importantly, such evidence would have shifted unduly the focus of trial from allegations of drug trafficking to matters of geo-political intrigue.
United States v. Flitcraft, 803 F.2d 184 (5th Cir. 1986)
Facts:
 D convicted for failing to file tax returns.
 D claimed he read cases and article convincing him his wages were not income, merely exchange of money for time.
 Trial judge refused to allow D to introduce legal materials upon which D
claimed to rely, but did allow D to testify about them orally.
Opinion (Johnson, J):
 A district court's ruling under FRE 403 will not be disturbed except for abuse of discretion.
 Documents relied upon by D would have been cumulative, and therefore have little further probative value, because D testified to documents relied upon and their contents.

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