Want to ramp up the speed at which you make objections at federal trials? According to lawyer Stephen Saltzburg, there are ten federal rules of evidence that you should make sure you know backwards and forwards. Here are the first five--
- FRE 401, Relevant Evidence. This rules gives a judge "tremendous discretion" in deciding what evidence is relevant.
- FRE 402, Relevant v. Irrelevant Evidence. Rule 402 gives a judge additional grounds to let evidence in--it makes all relevant evidence admissible, even if no other rule says so expressly.
- FRE 403, Exclusion of Relevant Evidence. By means of Rule 403, a judge can exclude relevant evidence even if not excluded by some other rule. According to Saltzburg, the rule "can knock out the prejudicial, the confusing, the misleading, the cumulative, the time-consuming, even the 'unnecessary.'"
- FRE 901, Authentication or Identification. Only minimal evidence is required to prove that "the matter in question is what its proponent claims." Lawyers who understand Rule 901 know that there are multiple ways to authenticate evidence.
- FRE 611, Order of Questioning. Rule 611 gives a judge broad discretion to control the trial. Using this rule, the judge "may impose time limits on parties, permit witnesses to testify out of turn, and take virtually any step that he concludes will avoid prejudice, waste of time, and cumulative evidence."
Five additional rules will be featured in my next post. Source: Saltzburg, Stephen, "The Top Ten List: Rules Lawyers Must Know," Litigation, Fall 1995, 6-10.