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: Although the course will be taught on line, I will also schedule some in-person meetings and small-group sessions on campus if possible, with virtual options for students who cannot attend. There is one assigned time block for the course, but the structure of classes will vary, and students will be divided into sections, discussion groups, and panels. We will have some synchronous whole-group meetings and some class time divided between sections. There will be occasional asynchronous content, including short lectures, podcasts, and some documentary footage. Students will have advance notice of all required participation elements. Evaluation will be based on these in-class exercises, interim quizzes, and a final essay exam.
|Course Areas of Practice|
Knowledge and understanding of substantive and procedural law