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Encyclopedia > Evidence (law)
Evidence
Part of the common law series
Types of evidence
Testimony · Documentary evidence
Physical evidence · Digital evidence
Exculpatory evidence · Scientific evidence
Demonstrative evidence
Relevance
Burden of proof
Laying a foundation
Subsequent remedial measure
Character evidence · Habit evidence
Similar fact evidence
Authentication
Chain of custody
Judicial notice · Best evidence rule
Self-authenticating document
Ancient document
Witnesses
Competence · Privilege
Direct examination · Cross-examination
Impeachment · Recorded recollection
Expert witness · Dead man statute
Hearsay (and its exceptions)
Excited utterance · Dying declaration
Party admission · Ancient document
Declaration against interest
Present sense impression · Res gestae
Learned treatise
Other areas of the common law
Contract law · Tort law · Property law
Wills and Trusts · Criminal law

The law of evidence governs the use of testimony (e.g. oral or written statements, such as an affidavit) and exhibits (e.g. physical objects) or other documentary material which is admissible (i.e. allowed to be considered by the trier of fact, such as jury) in a judicial or administrative proceeding (e.g., a court of law). Image File history File links Scale_of_justice. ... This article concerns the common-law legal system, as contrasted with the civil law legal system; for other meanings of the term, within the field of law, see common law (disambiguation). ... In law and in religion, testimony is a solemn attestation as to the truth of a matter. ... Documentary evidence is any evidence introduced at a trial in the form of documents. ... Physical evidence is any evidence introduced in a trial in the form of a physical object, intended to prove a fact in issue based on its demonstrable physical characteristics. ... Digital evidence or electronic evidence is any probative information stored or transmitted in digital form that a party to a court case may use at trial. ... Exculpatory evidence is the evidence favorable to the defendant in a criminal trial, which clears or tends to clear the defendant of guilt. ... The scientific method or process is fundamental to the scientific investigation and acquisition of new knowledge based upon physical evidence. ... Demonstrative evidence is evidence used to help the fact-finder gain context for the facts of the case. ... Relevance, in the common law of evidence, is the tendency of a given item of evidence to prove or disprove one of the legal elements of the case, or to have probative value to make one of the elements of the case likelier or not. ... In the common law, burden of proof is the obligation to prove allegations which are presented in a legal action. ... In law, to lay a foundation means to provide sufficient evidence of the authenticity and relevance for the admission of the testimony of a witness, documentary evidence, or other piece of evidence. ... A subsequent remedial measure is a term used in the law of evidence (law) in the United States to describe an improvement or repair made to a structure following an injury caused by the condition of that structure. ... Character evidence is a term used in the law of evidence in the United States to describe any testimony or document submitted for the purpose of proving that a person acted in a particular way on a particular occasion based on the character or disposition of that person. ... Habit evidence is a term used in the law of evidence in the United States to describe any evidence submitted for the purpose of proving that a person acted in a particular way on a particular occasion based on that persons tendancy to reflexively respond to a particular situation... In the law of evidence, similar fact evidence (or the similar fact principle) establishes the conditions under which factual evidence of past misconduct of accused can be admitted at trial for the purpose of infering that the accused committed the misconduct at issue. ... Authentication, in the law of evidence, is the process by which documentary evidence and other physical evidence is proven to be genuine, and not a forgery. ... The chain of custody is a concept in jurisprudence which applies to the handling of evidence and its integrity. ... Judicial Notice is a rule of evidence that allows a fact to be introduced into evidence if the truth of that fact is so notorious or well known that it is cannot be refuted. ... The best evidence rule is a rule of evidence in the United States that requires that when writings are introduced as evidence in a trial, the original writing must be produced unless the party can account satisfactorily for its absence. ... A self authenticating document, under the law of evidence in the United States is any document that can be admitted into evidence at a trial without any proof being submitted to support the claim that the document is what it appears to be. ... An ancient document, in the law of evidence, refers to both a means of authentication for a piece of documentary evidence, and an exception to the hearsay rule. ... This article is about witnesses in law courts. ... In law, competence is conerns the mental capacity of a individual to participate in legal proceedings. ... A privilege—etymologically private law or law relating to a specific individual—is an honour, or permissive activity granted by another person or a government. ... Direct examination (also called examination in chief) is the questioning of a witness by the party who called him or her, in a trial in a court of law. ... In law, cross-examination is the interrogation of a witness called by ones opponent. ... Witness impeachment, in the law of evidence, is the process of calling into question the credibility of an individual who is testifying in a trial. ... A recorded recollection, in the law of evidence, is a an exception to the hearsay rule which allows a witness to testify to the accuracy of a recording or documentation of their own out-of-court statement based on their recollection of the circumstances under which the statement was recorded... An expert witness is a witness, who by virtue of education, or profession, or experience, is believed to have special knowledge of his subject beyond that of the average person, sufficient that others may officially (and legally) rely upon his opinion. ... A dead man statute is a statute designed to prevent perjury in a civil case by prohibiting a witness who is an interested party from testifying about communications or transactions with a decedent, unless there is a waiver. ... Hearsay in its most general and oldest meaning is a term used in the law of evidence to describe an out of court statement offered to establish the facts asserted in that statement. ... An excited utterance, in the law of evidence, is a statement made by a person in response to a shocking event. ... A dying declaration is a term used in the law of evidence to signify that testimony that would normally be barred as hearsay may nonetheless be admitted as evidence in certain kinds of cases because it constituted the last words of a dying person. ... A party admission, in the law of evidence, is any statement made by a declarant who is a party to a lawsuit, which is offered as evidence against that party. ... An ancient document, in the law of evidence, refers to both a means of authentication for a piece of documentary evidence, and an exception to the hearsay rule. ... Hearsay in its most general and oldest meaning is a term used in the law of evidence to describe an out of court statement offered to establish the facts asserted in that statement. ... A present sense impression, in the law of evidence, is a statement made by a person that conveys their sense of the state of certain things at the time the statement was made. ... This article is for the legal term Res Gestae. For the article on the record of the accomplishments of the first Roman emperor, Augustus, see the article for Res Gestae Divi Augusti. ... A learned treatise, in the law of evidence, is a text that is sufficiently authoritiative in its field to be admissible as evidence in a court in support of the contentions made therein. ... A contract is a promise or an agreement that is enforced or recognized by the law. ... In the common law, a tort is a civil wrong, other than a breach of contract, for which the law provides a remedy. ... Property law is the area of law that governs the various forms of ownership in real property (land as distinct from personal or movable possessions) and in personal property, within the common law legal system. ... In the common law, a will or testament is a document by which a person (the testator) regulates the rights of others over his property or family after death. ... The law of trusts and estates is generally considered the body of law which governs the management of personal affairs and the disposition of property of an individual in anticipation and the event of such persons incapacity or death, also known as the law of successions in civil law. ... Criminal law (also known as penal law) is the body of common law that punishes criminals for committing offences against the state. ... Law (from the late Old English lagu of probable North Germanic origin) in politics and jurisprudence, is a set of rules or norms of conduct which mandate, proscribe or permit specified relationships among people and organizations, intended to provide methods for ensuring the impartial treatment of such people, and provide... In law and in religion, testimony is a solemn attestation as to the truth of a matter. ... An affidavit is a formal sworn statement of fact, written down, signed, and witnessed (as to the veracity of the signature) by a taker of oaths, such as a notary public. ... Exhibition is a word with several meanings. ... A trier of fact is the person or group of persons in a trial who make findings of fact as opposed to rulings of law. ... A jury is a sworn body of persons convened to render a rational, impartial verdict and a finding of fact on a legal question officially submitted to them, or to set a penalty or judgment in a jury trial of a court of law. ... Dispute resolution is the process of resolving disputes between parties. ... A court is an official, public forum which a sovereign establishes by lawful authority to adjudicate disputes, and to dispense civil, labour, administrative and criminal justice under the law. ...

Contents


Relevance and related social policy concerns

In every jurisdiction based on the English common law tradition, evidence must conform to a number of rules and restrictions to be admissible. Evidence must be relevant — that is, it must have a tendency to make a fact at issue in the proceeding be more or less probable than it would be without the evidence. However, relevance is ordinarily a necessary condition but not a sufficient condition for the admissibility of evidence. For example, relevant evidence may be excluded if it is unfairly prejudicial, confusing, or cumulative. Furthermore, a variety of social policies operate to exclude relevant evidence. Thus, there are limitations on the use of evidence of liability insurance, subsequent remedial measures, settlement offers, and plea negotiations, mainly because it is thought that the use of such evidence discourages parties from carrying insurance, fixing hazardous conditions, offering to settle, and pleading guilty to crimes, respectively. Relevance, in the common law of evidence, is the tendency of a given item of evidence to prove or disprove one of the legal elements of the case, or to have probative value to make one of the elements of the case likelier or not. ... Liability insurance is a part of the general insurance system of risk transference. ... A subsequent remedial measure is a term used in the law of evidence (law) in the United States to describe an improvement or repair made to a structure following an injury caused by the condition of that structure. ... A settlement offer or offer to settle is a term used in a civil lawsuit to describe a communication from one party to the other suggesting a settlement - an agreement to end the lawsuit before a judgment is rendered. ... A plea bargain is an agreement in a criminal case in which a prosecutor and a defendant arrange to settle the case against the defendant. ...


Presence or absence of a jury

Of all jurisdictions worldwide, the United States of America has the most complicated system of evidentiary rules. The unusual complexity of American evidence law arises from two factors: (1) the right of American defendants to have findings of fact made by a jury in practically all criminal cases as well as many civil cases; and (2) the widespread consensus that tight limitations on the admissibility of evidence are necessary to prevent a jury of untrained laypersons from being swayed by irrelevant distractions (such as the infamous Chewbacca Defense). Legal historian Lawrence Friedman has explained that "[a] trained judge would not need all these rules; and indeed, the law of evidence in systems that lack a jury is short, sweet, and clear."[1] Johnnie Cochran using the Chewbacca Defense against Chef in South Park. ...


Authentication

Certain kinds of evidence, such as documentary evidence, may be subject to further restrictions such as the best evidence rule, which requires certain documents to be produced unless they can shown to be unavailable. The best evidence rule is a rule of evidence in the United States that requires that when writings are introduced as evidence in a trial, the original writing must be produced unless the party can account satisfactorily for its absence. ...


Witnesses

In systems of proof based on the English common law tradition, almost all evidence must be sponsored by a witness, who has sworn or solemnly affirmed to tell the truth. The bulk of the law of evidence regulates the types of evidence that may be sought from witneseses and the manner in which the interrogation of witnesses is conducted during direct examination and cross-examination of witnesses. Other types of evidentiary rules specify the standards of persuasion (e.g., proof beyond a reasonable doubt) that a trier of fact such as a jury must apply when it assesses evidence. This article is about witnesses in law courts. ... Direct examination (also called examination in chief) is the questioning of a witness by the party who called him or her, in a trial in a court of law. ... In law, cross-examination is the interrogation of a witness called by ones opponent. ...


Today all persons are presumed to be qualified to serve as witnesses in trials and other legal proceedings, and all persons are also presumed to have a legal obligation to serve as witnesses if their testimony is sought. However, legal rules sometimes exempt people from the obligation to give evidence and legal rules disqualify people from serving as witnesses under some circumstances.


Privilege rules give the holder of the privilege a right to prevent a witness from giving testimony. These privileges are ordinarily but not always designed to protect socially-valued types of confidential communications. Some of the privileges that are often recognized are the marital secrets privilege, the adverse spousal testimony privilege, the attorney-client privilege, the doctor-patient privilege, the psychotherapist-patient and counselor-patient privilege, and the clergy-penitent privilege. A variety of additional privileges are recognized in different jurisdictions but the list of recognized privileges varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction; for example, some jurisdictions recognize a social worker-client privilege and other jurisdictions do not. A privilege—etymologically private law or law relating to a specific individual—is an honour, or permissive activity granted by another person or a government. ... The spousal privilege, also known as the marital communication privilege or marital privilege, is a form of privileged communication protecting the contents of communications between husband and wife. ... Attorney-client privilege is a legal concept that protects communications between a client and his or her attorney and keeps those communications confidential. ... In the laws of many common law jurisdictions, the concept of legal privilege, or the rule that certain conversations are so private and confidential that they cannot be used as evidence in court, extends to communication between a patient and physician. ...


Witness competence rules are legal rules that specify circumstances under which persons are ineligible to serve as witnesses. For example, neither a judge nor a juror is competent to testify in a trial in which they are serving in that capacity; and in jurisdictions with a dead man statute, a person is deemed not competent to testify as to statements of or transactions with a deceased opposing party. In law, competence is conerns the mental capacity of a individual to participate in legal proceedings. ... A dead man statute is a statute designed to prevent perjury in a civil case by prohibiting a witness who is an interested party from testifying about communications or transactions with a decedent, unless there is a waiver. ...


Hearsay

Main article: Hearsay

Hearsay is one of the largest and most complex areas of the law of evidence. The default rule is that hearsay evidence is inadmissible. Hearsay is an out of court statement offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted. A party is offering a statement to prove the truth of the matter asserted if the party is trying to prove that the assertion made by the declarant (the maker of the pretrial statement) is true. For example, prior to trial Bob says, "Jane went to the store." If the party offering this statement as evidence at trial is trying to prove that Jane actually went to the store, the statement is being offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted. However, at both common law and under evidence codifications such as the Federal Rules of Evidence, there are dozens of exemptions from and exceptions to the hearsay rule. Hearsay in its most general and oldest meaning is a term used in the law of evidence to describe an out of court statement offered to establish the facts asserted in that statement. ... Hearsay in its most general and oldest meaning is a term used in the law of evidence to describe an out of court statement offered to establish the facts asserted in that statement. ... The Federal Rules of Evidence (FRE) are the rules that govern the admissibility of evidence in the United States federal court system. ...


Burdens of proof

Main article: Burden of proof

Different types of proceedings require parties to meet different burdens of proof, the typical examples being reasonable doubt, clear and convincing, and preponderance of the evidence. Many jurisdictions have burden-shifting provisions, which require that if one party produces evidence tending to prove a certain point, the burden shifts to the other party to produce superior evidence tending to disprove it. In the common law, burden of proof is the obligation to prove allegations which are presented in a legal action. ... Burden of proof is the obligation to prove allegations which are presented in a legal action. ... Reasonable Doubt was rapper Jay-Zs debut hip hop album, released on June 25, 1996 (see 1996 in music). ... Clear and convincing evidence is the intermediate level of burden of persuasion sometimes employed in the civil procedure. ... Preponderance of the evidence is the level of burden of persuasion typically employed in the civil procedure and administrative law. ...


One special category of information in this area includes things of which the court may take judicial notice. This category covers matters that are so well known that the court may deem them proven without the introduction of any evidence. For example, if a defendant is alleged to have illegally transported goods across a state line by driving them from Boston to Los Angeles, the court may take judicial notice of the fact that it is impossible to drive from Boston to Los Angeles without crossing a number of state lines. In a civil case, where the court takes judicial notice of the fact, that fact is deemed conclusively proven. In a criminal case, however, the defense may always submit evidence to rebut a point for which judicial notice has been taken. Judicial Notice is a rule of evidence that allows a fact to be introduced into evidence if the truth of that fact is so notorious or well known that it is cannot be refuted. ... Boston is a town and small port c. ... This article is about the largest city in California. ...


Evidentiary rules stemming from other areas of law

Some rules that affect the admissibility of evidence are nonetheless considered to belong to other areas of law. These include the exclusionary rule of criminal procedure, which prohibits the admission in a criminal trial of evidence gained by unconstitutional means, and the parol evidence rule of contract law, which prohibits the admission of extrinsic evidence of the contents of a written contract. In United States constitutional law, the exclusionary rule is a legal principle holding that evidence collected or analyzed in violation of the U.S. Constitution is not admissible for a criminal prosecution in a court of law (that is, it cannot be used in a criminal trial). ... Criminal procedure refers to the legal process for adjudicating claims that someone has violated the criminal law. ... The parol evidence rule enacts a principle of the common law of contracts that presumes that a written contract embodies the complete agreement between the parties involved. ... A contract is any promise or set of promises made by one party to another for the breach of which the law provides a remedy. ...


Evidence as an area of study

Because of its importance to the practice of law, all American law schools offer a course in evidence, and most require the subject either as a first year class, or as an upper-level class, or as a prerequisite to later courses. Furthermore, evidence is heavily tested on the Multistate Bar Examination ("MBE") - of the 200 multiple choice questions asked in that test, approximately one sixth will be in the area of evidence. The MBE tests evidence predominately under the Federal Rules of Evidence, giving little attention to matters for which state law is likely to be inconsistent. // A law school is an institution where future lawyers obtain legal degrees. ... The Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) is a six-hour, two-hundred question multiple-choice examination covering contracts, torts, constitutional law, criminal law, evidence, and real property. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... The Federal Rules of Evidence (FRE) are the rules that govern the admissibility of evidence in the United States federal court system. ...


References

  Lawrence M. Friedman, American Law in the Twentieth Century (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002), 266.


See also

Look up evidence in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

  Results from FactBites:
 
Evidence (law) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1192 words)
Evidence must be relevant — that is, it must have a tendency to make a fact at issue in the proceeding be more or less probable than it would be without the evidence.
The bulk of the law of evidence regulates the types of evidence that may be sought from witneseses and the manner in which the interrogation of witnesses is conducted during direct examination and cross-examination of witnesses.
These include the exclusionary rule of criminal procedure, which prohibits the admission in a criminal trial of evidence gained by unconstitutional means, and the parol evidence rule of contract law, which prohibits the admission of extrinsic evidence of the contents of a written contract.
Supreme Court of Ohio / Ohio Rules of Court / Rules of Evidence (16481 words)
Evidence of the habit of a person or of the routine practice of an organization, whether corroborated or not and regardless of the presence of eyewitnesses, is relevant to prove that the conduct of the person or organization on a particular occasion was in conformity with the habit or routine practice.
When evidence of a witness's conviction of a crime is admissible under this rule, the fact of the conviction may be proved only by the testimony of the witness on direct or cross-examination, or by public record shown to the witness during his or her examination.
Evidence of the beliefs or opinions of a witness on matters of religion is not admissible for the purpose of showing that by reason of their nature his credibility is impaired or enhanced.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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