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relevance notes

Page history last edited by abogado 3 years, 9 months ago

Lecture Notes - Evidence


Chapter Theme


            The purpose of Chapter Two is to impart to students an understanding of relevant evidence and an ability to discern evidence which is probative yet unfairly prejudicial.


Instructor Approach


            The Instructor should be aware that the students may have a tendency to dismiss potential evidence as irrelevant before completely evaluating its probative value.  Obviously, without a careful and thorough consideration of the probative value of a piece of evidence, its significance could be lost.  The students, therefore, should be encouraged to avoid this pitfall.  Remind the students that an understanding and an application of the rules of evidence increases an advocates’s ability to argue the probative or prejudicial worth of the evidence.


Norman Garland - 9 Steps (1st 4 steps deal with relevance)

The nine steps (questions) are:

1. What is the evidence?
2. What is the evidence offered to prove?
3. Does the evidence help?  This third question may, for ease of analysis, be broken into two subdivisions: (a) Does the evidence offered tend to make some assertion of fact at issue in the case more or less likely to be true, than if the evidence is not admitted?; (b) How does the evidence tend to prove that for which it is offered?
4. Even if the evidence helps, is its probative value (i.e., its ability to prove an assertion of fact at issue) substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, possibility of misleading the jury, or by considerations of undue delay, waste of time, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence?  This question, presented in Federal Rule of Evidence 403, requires a balancing of the costs and benefits of logically relevant evidence (this balancing concept will be referred to herein as the Rule 403 balancing test)




The Burned Butt


Auto accident tort action. D, by cross-examination, unsuccessfully sought to force from P the admissions that he was driving under the influence of liquor and at the time of the accident was attempting to light a cigarette. D also sought to testify that two days after the accident and after P's demolished vehicle had been removed ten miles from the scene of the accident, she found a slightly burned cigarette on the floorboard of P's vehicle. Should D's testimony be admitted? Why?

Analysis - The Burned Butt

Beer Cans in the Car


Charge: driving while intoxicated. At trial, the arresting officer testifies that she stopped D for speeding. While writing out a speeding citation she observed a beer can on the seat next to D. The prosecution offers the beer can as evidence.

Should the beer can be admitted? Does it make any difference whether (1) the beer can is half empty, (2) the beer can is open and completely empty, or (3) the beer can is full and unopened?


Analysis - Beer Cans in the Car 


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