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Flashcards in Relevancy and Its Limits Deck (14):

What is the test for relevance?

Evidence is relevant if:
1. It has any tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence; and
2. the fact is of consequence in determining the action.

FRE 401.


What the two types of relevance?

Logical relevance - Some logical tendency to prove or disprove a fact of consequence, or some probative value.

FRE 401.

Legal relevance - Actually helpful to deciding the case. Some help to resolve the legal issues. This implicates some public policy considerations.

FRE 403.


What are the two types of evidence?

Direct evidence is evidence that, if believed, proves a fact or set of facts without the need to draw another inference.

Evidence is considered circumstantial when, in order to prove one set of facts, an inference must be drawn from another set of facts.


Is relevant evidence admissible?

Generally, relevant evidence is admissible unless any of the following provides otherwise: US constitution, a federal statute, the FRE, or other rules prescribed by the Supreme Court.

Irrelevant evidence is not admissible.

FRE 402.


When is otherwise admissible relevant evidence inadmissible?

The court may exclude relevant evidence if its probative value is substantially outweighed by a danger of one or more of the following:
1. unfair prejudice;
2. confusing the issues;
3. misleading the jury;
4. undue delay;
5. wasting time; or
6. needlessly presenting cumulative evidence.

FRE 403.


When is character evidence admissible in civil cases?

The general rule is that evidence of a person's character or character trait is inadmissible to prove that on a particular occasion he acted in accordance with that character or trait. EXCEPTION: Where character is an essential element of a cause of action, claim, or defense.

FRE 404.

Types of character evidence in this case:

When dealing with methods of proving character, the evidence may be offered in the form of opinion or reputation. If its reputation, the witness must establish he is aware of the reputation of the party in the relevant community. If its opinion, the witness must establish that he has sufficient knowledge to form an opinion about the particular trait.

When character is an essential element of the trait, specific instances of that person's conduct may be offered as well.

FRE 405.

Cases where character is in issue:
Defamation, child custody, negligent entrustment, and negligent hiring.


When is character evidence admissible in criminal cases?

The prosecution may not initially introduce evidence of D's bad character.

The D must first introduce character evidence. This is called "opening the door."

The D may open the door with either reputation or opinion evidence (not specific instances), but the prosecution may so rebut.

FRE 404(a)(1).

A D may introduce evidence of a victim's violent character as circumstantial evidence that the victim was the first aggressor through reputation or opinion when the D has raised a defense.

The prosecution may so rebut by showing evidence of good character of victim and bad character of the D through reputation or opinion evidence.

If the D offers evidence that the victim was the initial aggressor without character evidence, then the prosecution may rebut with evidence of victim's good character.

A D may offer evidence of his own awareness of the victim's bad character for violence for the limited purpose of showing the D's state of mind. This is not character evidence, rather it shows the reasonableness of the use of self-defense.

FRE 404(a)(2)


When may character evidence be otherwise admissible although character evidence?

Evidence of character may be admissible hen offered for a purpose other than to show conduct in conformity with one's character. Character evidence may be admissible to prove:
1. Motive;
2. Intent;
3. Absence of mistake;
4. Identity; and
5. Common plan or scheme.

This is MIMIC.

Also, to show: knowledge, opportunity, or preparation.

FRE 404(b).


When is habit/routine practice evidence admissible?

Evidence of the habit of a person or routine practice of an organization is relevant to prove conduct in conformity with the habit.

It is admissible in the forms of opinion or specific instances.

Look for words like always, automatically, regularly, instinctively, without fail, invariably, and habitually. The following does not: usually, often, frequently.

FRE 406.


What otherwise relevant evidence is barred due to public policy concerns?

1. Subsequent Remedial Measures:

Evidence of SRM is inadmissible to prove negligence, culpable conduct, design defect, or the need for a warning. However, it can be used to show ownership or control; to impeach; feasibility of precautions if controverted.

FRE 407.

2. Offers to Compromise or Settle:

Evidence of an offer to settle a disputed claim is inadmissible to prove liability. Additionally, it may not be used as a prior inconsistent statement for impeachment purposes.

However, it is admissible to show bais or prejudice, or to negate a contention of undue delay.

Statements made in conjunction with an offer to settle are not severable.

FRE 408.

3. Offers to Pay Medical and Similar Expenses:

Evidence of offering to pay medical bills is inadmissible to prove liability. There is no need for a dispute.

Statements made in conjunction with an offer to pay medical expenses are severable.

FRE 409.

4. Pleas, Plea Discussions, and Related Statements:

A plea and any statements made during plea negotiations by a D to a prosecutor will be inadmissible in both later civil or criminal proceedings.

This applies to:
1. pleas of guilty later withdrawn;
2. pleas of no contest; and
3. offers to plead guilty.

FRE 410.

5. Liability Insurance:

Evidence that a person was or was not insured is inadmissible to prove negligence. However, it can be used for another purpose such as: proof of agency, ownership or control, or bias or prejudice of a witness.

Statements made in connection with evidence of insurance coverage may be severed.

FRE 411.


What are rape shield laws?

They are broad rules of exclusion. In an civil or criminal proceeding involving alleged sexual misconduct, evidence offered to show the alleged victim's sexual behavior, sexual predisposition, and other sexual history is excluded.

FRE 412.


What is specifically is excluded under FRE 412?

Sexual behavior includes actual sexual physical conduct as well as the use of contraceptives, fantasies, and any activities that imply sexual activity. Predisposition includes how a person dresses, lifestyle choices, and speech.


What narrow exceptions are there to FRE 412?

In a criminal case, specific acts are admissible in the following situations:

1. Consent - Evidence of specific instances of a victim's sexual behavior with respect to the person accused of the sexual misconduct, if offered by the D to prove consent or if offered by the prosecution.

2. Source - Evidence of specific instances of a victim's sexual behavior, if offered to prove that someone other than the D was the source of semen, injury, or other physical evidence.

3. Other - Evidence whose exclusion would violate the D's constitutional rights.

In a civil case, the court may admit evidence offered to prove a victim's sexual behavior or sexual predisposition if its probative value substantially outweighs the danger of harm to any victim and of unfair prejudice to any party. Evidence of a victim's reputation is admissible only if the victim has placed it in controversy.

FRE 412.


What evidence of similar crimes in sex assault and child molestation cases is admissible?

In a criminal case, specific acts by the D are admissible and may be considered as they bear on any relevant matter.

FRE 413, 414.

In a civil case, the court may admit evidence that the party committed any other sexual assault or child molestation.

FRE 415.