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Evidence Full Course Outline

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Table of Contents
Chapter 1. Introduction to Evidence Law.................................................................................3
D. The Role of the Trial Judge.............................................................................................................3

1. The Trial Judge's Authority..............................................................................................................3

2. The Trial Judge's Discretion.............................................................................................................3

Chapter 2. Relevance...............................................................................................................5
A. Relevance and Irrelevance.............................................................................................................5
B. Probative Value and Prejudice.......................................................................................................9
C. Conditional Relevance..................................................................................................................15

Chapter 3. Hearsay................................................................................................................17
A. The Hearsay Rule and Its Rationale..............................................................................................17

1. Introduction..................................................................................................................................17

2. Nonhearsay Uses of Out-of-Court Statements..............................................................................20

3. Implied Assertions.........................................................................................................................26
B. Hearsay and Confrontation..........................................................................................................29
C. Exceptions to the Hearsay Rule....................................................................................................34

1. Prior Statements by Witnesses.....................................................................................................35

2. Admissions by Opposing Parties...................................................................................................37 a. Direct Admissions.......................................................................................................................................37 i. Generally.................................................................................................................................................37 ii. Admissions and Multiple Hearsay..........................................................................................................39 iii. Admissions and Completeness.............................................................................................................40 b. Adoptive Admissions..................................................................................................................................40 c. Authorized Admissions...............................................................................................................................42 d. Agent and Employee Admissions...............................................................................................................43 e. Co-Conspirator Admissions........................................................................................................................45 f. Admissions and the Bruton Rule.................................................................................................................48

3. Spontaneous and Contemporaneous Statements........................................................................51

4. State of Mind................................................................................................................................54 a. Generally.....................................................................................................................................................54 b. The Hillmon Doctrine..................................................................................................................................55

5. Injury Reports................................................................................................................................59

6. Recorded Recollection..................................................................................................................60

7. Business Records...........................................................................................................................63 a. Generally.....................................................................................................................................................63 b. Qualifying "Businesses"..............................................................................................................................64 d. Sources of Information...............................................................................................................................67 e. Absence of Record......................................................................................................................................68

8. Public Records...............................................................................................................................69

9. Former Testimony.........................................................................................................................74

10. Dying Declarations......................................................................................................................79

11. Declarations Against Interest......................................................................................................81

12. Forfeiture By Wrongdoing...........................................................................................................84

13. Residual Exception......................................................................................................................87
D. Hearsay and Due Process.............................................................................................................89 Chapter 4. Character Evidence...............................................................................................93
A. The Basic Rule and Its Exceptions.................................................................................................93
C. Other Uses of Specific Conduct...................................................................................................101

1. Permissible Purposes..................................................................................................................101

2. Requisite Proof............................................................................................................................107
D. Character and Habit...................................................................................................................109
E. Sexual Assault and Child Molestation.........................................................................................112

1. Character of the Victim...............................................................................................................112

2. Character of the Defendant........................................................................................................118

Chapter 5. Other Forbidden Inferences................................................................................121
A. Subsequent Remedial Measures................................................................................................123

1. Civil Settlements.........................................................................................................................123

2. Criminal Settlements...................................................................................................................127
C. Medical Payments and Liability Insurance..................................................................................129
A. Introduction...............................................................................................................................130
B. Character for Untruthfulness......................................................................................................131

1. In General...................................................................................................................................131

2. Prior Criminal Convictions...........................................................................................................134 a. Admissible and Inadmissible Convictions.................................................................................................134 b. Preserving Claims of Error........................................................................................................................137

C. Prior Inconsistent Statements....................................................................................................139
D. Bias and Incapacity....................................................................................................................145
E. Specific Contradiction.................................................................................................................147
F. Rehabilitation.............................................................................................................................151

1. In General...................................................................................................................................152

2. Character for Truthfulness..........................................................................................................153

3. Prior Consistent Statements.......................................................................................................156

Chapter 9. Opinions, Experts, and Scientific Evidence..........................................................160
A. Lay Opinions..............................................................................................................................160
B. Expert Testimony.......................................................................................................................165

1. Permissible Subjects and Scope..................................................................................................165

2. Reliability....................................................................................................................................169 a. Court-Appointed Experts..........................................................................................................................169

Chapter 10. Privileges..........................................................................................................173
A. In General..................................................................................................................................173
B. Attorney-Client Privilege............................................................................................................174

1. Introduction................................................................................................................................174

2. Elements of the Privilege............................................................................................................177 a. Communication........................................................................................................................................177 b. In Confidence............................................................................................................................................178 c. Between Attorney and Client....................................................................................................................181 d. To Facilitate Legal Service........................................................................................................................186

3. Waiver.........................................................................................................................................188

4. Crime-Fraud Exception................................................................................................................192
C. Spousal Privileges.......................................................................................................................193

Chapter 11. Physical Evidence..............................................................................................195 A. Authentication...........................................................................................................................195
B. The Best Evidence Rule..............................................................................................................201

1. Scope and Purpose......................................................................................................................202

2. Exceptions...................................................................................................................................203

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

Chapter 1. Introduction to Evidence Law
D. The Role of the Trial Judge

1. The Trial Judge's Authority
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.
Advisory Committee note to FRE 104(a)
 Applicability of a particular rule of evidence often depends upon the existence of a condition: e.g., is the alleged expert a qualified physician?
If the question is factual in nature, the judge considers evidence pro and con on the issue. Practical necessity leads the judge, when determining admissibility, to hear evidence without regard to exclusionary rules: a piece of evidence offered and objected to may itself be considered in ruling on admissibility.

2. The Trial Judge's Discretion
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
 FRE, like FRCivP and FRCrimP, mandates courts disregard errors not affecting substantial rights of the parties. Reversible or prejudicial error must affect substantial rights. Definition of substantial rights is vague,
and prejudice is determined on case-by-case basis.
 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
 Most appellants do not get chance to test harmfulness of error, since evidentiary standard makes it difficult to prove error by record.
 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.
United States v. Walton, 217 F.3d 443 (7th Cir. 2000)
 Reviews trial court's determination of admissibility under abuse of discretion standard, affording "great deference" to TC's determination because of trial judge's first-hand exposure to witnesses and evidence as a whole, familiarity with case and ability gauge impact of evidence in context of entire proceeding. 

Appellants who challenge evidentiary rulings of district court are like rich men who wish to enter the Kingdom: their prospects compare with those of camels who wish to pass through the eye of a needle.

Bandera v. City of Quincy, 344 F.3d 47 (1st Cir. 2003)
Procedural posture:
 Appeal from jury award to P of damages for sexual harassment.
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.
 Prior to trial, Coletta was identified as witness and D anticipated
Coletta would describe her own experiences and thus moved in limine for an order limiting or excluding such testimony as irrelevant or, if relevant, unduly prejudicial under FRE 403. TJ denied motion without discussion.
 At trial, Coletta described her own experience and was allowed to testify, over objections by D, about how she felt about and assed P's allegations.
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."
o Coletta was not qualified as an expert.
o Assessments were not limited to the kind of opinion testimony deemed helpful to a jury (e.g., estimate of car speed).
 If basic objection—improper opinion testimony by lay witness—had been preserved, court might be tempted to reverse.
o Coletta's assessment may have had limited impact, but it is open to doubt whether testimony's admission could be deemed harmless.
 But the objection was not properly preserved.
o FRE 103(b) provides objection resolved by definitive in limine ruling admitting evidence need not be renewed at trial.
o But TJ only definitively ruled that Coletta could testify about her own experience, not assess D's experience. This is evident from in limine motion itself.
o Under FRE 103(a)(1), an objection, if its basis is not obvious, is not preserved unless the ground is stated.
 D objected when opinion testimony was offered at trial, but objections were either unexplained or had to do with time frame. Given earlier attacks based on relevance and prejudice, it was not obvious to TJ that new objections were to impermissible lay witness opinion.
Under FRE 103(c), failure to preserve the objection means review is at most for plain error.
o It is far from clear the testimony was harmful, and this doubt alone is enough to bar reversal under the plain error doctrine: although the error is plain in retrospect, there is no showing that it probably infected the outcome or caused a miscarriage of justice.
Remanded on other grounds.

Chapter 2. Relevance
A. Relevance and Irrelevance
Introduction
 As Thayer used the terms, relevance is determined by logic and experience, not by legal rules. Evidence is relative if rationally probative in any way, so it needs have very little probative force to be relevant. The low threshold for relevance is part of why there are no exceptions for irrelevant evidence.
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
 Relevance is determined by processes of legal reasoning. Relevancy is not an inherent characteristic of any item of evidence, but exists only as a relation between an item and a matter provable in the case.
 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.
Advisory Committee Note to FRE 402
 Admissibility of all relevant evidence, with some exceptions, and inadmissibility of all relevant evidence is the foundation of the structure of admission and exclusion.
Knapp v. State, 79 N.E. 1076 (Ind. 1907)
Procedural posture:
 D appeals conviction for murder, challenging denial of motion for new trial.
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 cross-examination, P asked D who told him of old man, and D said he couldn't say.
 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.
 D argues it was error to admit physician's testimony, since the question was whether D had in fact heard the story, not the story's truth or falsity.
Opinion (Gillet, J):
 The testimony was admissible.
o While there must be an open and visible connection between the fact under inquiry and the evidence, the only a logical connection is required, since requiring an actual connection would exclude all presumptive evidence.
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).
 Affirmed.
United States v. Dominguez, 907 F.2d 216 (1st Cir. 1990)
History:
 D was a US Customs officer found guilty of kidnapping, robbing and murdering V when V attempted to carry $700k into the US.
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.

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