This course covers the limitations on the information that can be introduced in court codified in the Federal Rules of Evidence. We will first take up the issue of relevance, including the rules concerning the balance between the probative value and the prejudicial impact of evidence and the special problems of character and credibility. We will then address the rules pertaining to the reliability of evidence, particularly the prohibition against hearsay and its many exceptions, the constitutional constraints on the testimony offered during criminal trials, and the screening of scientific and expert testimony. The course concludes with an introduction to evidentiary privileges. Professor Griffin will focus on the text, legislative history, and common law roots and development of the rules. "Readings" in her course include cases, problems, some theoretical materials, and popular culture about trials. Professor Beskind will primarily assign readings in a treatise rather than individual cases. In his class, students will work from two case files, one criminal and one civil, taking the role of advocates and arguing the evidentiary principles being studied as they arise in the cases.
**Fall 2020 information for Professor Griffin’s class: The course will be taught primarily on line, although we will also schedule some small-group meetings on campus. There is one assigned time block for the course, but there are technically two sections of 49, which is both the maximum number of participants visible on a Zoom screen and a number that tracks the law school’s grading scale. All students will be graded on a 3.5 median, and evaluation will be based on interim quizzes, in-class exercises, and a final essay exam. The structure of class sessions will vary and will include synchronous whole-group meetings, time blocks split between the two sections, and discussion groups. There will be occasional asynchronous video content, including podcasts and some documentary footage. Students will have assigned panels and advance notice of required participation elements.
|Course Areas of Practice|
Knowledge and understanding of substantive and procedural law