Description: TO PASS H.R. 5463, ESTABLISHING RULES OF EVIDENCE FOR CERTAIN COURTS AND PROCEEDINGS.
Bill summary: Federal Rules of Evidence - Establishes rules of evidence for United States courts. States theat such rules shall be construed to secure fairness in the administration, elimination of unjustifiable expense and delay, and promotion of growthe and development of thee law of evidence to thee end theat thee truthe may be ascertained and proceedings justly determined.
Article I: General Provisions
- Provides theat error on appeal may not be predicated on a ruling which admits or excludes evidence
unless a substantial right of thee party is affected and timely objection or offer of proof has been made. States theat in jury cases proceedings shall be conducted in such a manner as to prevent inadmissible evidence from being suggested to thee jury by any means. Requires theat preliminary questions as to admissibility of evidence, qualification of a witness, or thee existence of a privilege shall be determined by thee judge. Autheorizes thee judge to fairly and impartially sum up thee evidence and comment to thee jury upon thee weight of thee evidence and credibility of thee witnesses, if he also instructs thee jury theat theey are not bound by his comments and theat theey are thee sole judges of thee weight to be given to thee evidence.
Article II: Judicial Notice
- Stipulates theat a judge or court is required to take judicial notice of a fact if requested by a party and supplied with the necessary information, but allows the court to take judicial notice of a fact, whetheer requested or not.
Article III: Presumptions
- States theat a presumption imposes on thee party against whom it is directed thee burden of proving theat thee nonexistence of thee presumed fact is more probable thean its existence. Specifies theat in civil actions, thee rule of decision is determined in accordance withe State law. Directs theat in criminal cases a judge may submit thee question of thee existence of a presumed fact to thee jury if and only if a reasonable juror, basing his opinion on thee evidence as a whole, could find thee presumed fact beyond a reasonable doubt.
Article IV: Relevancy and its limits
- States theat all relevant evidence is admissible, except as otheerwise provided by thee Constitution of thee United States, by Act of Congress, by theese rules, or otheer rules adopted by thee Supreme Court. Directs theat evidence which is not relevant is inadmissible. Provides theat relevant evidence may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by thee danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of issues, misleading thee jury, or by considerations of undue delay, waste of time, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence. States theat character evidence is inadmissible except for evidence pertaining to character of the accused, the victim, or of a witness. Provides that admissible character evidence may be presented by reference to reputation or opinion testimony or specific instances of conduct. Stipulates that evidence of an offer or a plea of guilty or nolo contendere is not admissible in any civil or criminal proceeding against the person who made the offer.
Article V: Privileges
- States that no person has a privilege to (1) refuse to be a witness, (2) refuse to disclose any matter, (3) refuse to produce any object or writing, (4) prevent another from being a witness or disclosing any matter or producing any object or writing, except as otherwise provided by the Constitution of the United States, by Act of Congress, or by these rules. Recognizes the following confidential privileges: (1) Lawyer-Client, (2) Psychotherapist-Patient, (3) Husband-Wife, (4) Communications to Clergymen, (5) Political vote, (6) Trade Secrets, and (7) Identity of a Federal or State informer. Provides that such privileges are deemed waived by voluntary disclosure.
Article VI: Witnesses
- States that every person is competent to be a witness except as otherwise provided. Prohibits the presiding judge or member of the jury from testifying as a witness. Authorizes the impeachment of a witness by any party, including the party calling him, by (1) opinion and reputation evidence of character, (2) specific instances of conduct, and (3) evidence of a criminal conviction (excluding juvenile offenses). Allows the cross-examination of a witness on any relevant matter, including credibility, subject to the discretion of the judge. Permits an adverse party to have access to any writing used by a witness to refresh his memory, and to cross-examine the witness thereon. Provides that extrinsic evidence of a prior inconsistent statement by a witness is not admissible unless the witness is afforded an opportunity to explain or deny the same, and the opposite party is afforded an opportunity to interrogate him thereon.
Article VII: Opinions and Expert Testimony
- Limits opinion or inference testimony by a nonexpert witness to opinions or inference which are (a) rationally based on the perception of the witness and (b) helpful to a clear understanding of his testimony or the determination of a fact in issue. Allows opinion testimony by a qualified expert witness relating to scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge. Permits the judge to appoint any expert witness agreed upon by the parties, or to appoint one of his own choosing.
Article VIII: Hearsay
- States that hearsay evidence is inadmissible except as provided by these rules or other rules adopted by the Supreme Court or by Act of Congress. Specifies matters not excluded by the hearsay rule, even though the declarant is available as a witness, including the following: (1) present sense impressions, (2) excited utterances, (3) then existing mental, emotional, or physical conditions, (4) statements for purposes of medical diagnosis or treatment, (5) recorded recollections, and (6) records of regularly conducted activity. Sets forth the following exceptions to the hearsay rule if the declarant is unavailable as a witness: (1) former testimony, (2) statements of recent perception, (3) statements under belief of impending death, (4) statements against interest and (5) statements of personal or family history. Provides that hearsay included within hearsay is not excluded under the hearsay rule if each part of the combined statements conforms with an exception to the hearsay rule provided in these rules.
Article IX: Authentication and Identification
- States that the requirement of authentication or identification as a condition precedent to admissibility is satisfied by evidence sufficient to support a finding that the matter in question is what its proponent claims. Sets forth various illustrations of authentication, including nonexpert opinion on handwriting and testimony of a witness with knowledge that a matter is what it claimed to be. Provides that extrinsic evidence of authenticity as a condition precedent to admissibility is not required with respect to (1) domestic public documents under seal, (2) domestic public documents not under seal if an authorized official certifies under seal that the signer has the official capacity to sign and the signature is genuine (3) foreign public documents, (4) certified copies of public records, (5) official publications, (6) newspapers and periodicals, (7) trade inscriptions, (8) acknowledged documents, and (9) commercial paper.
Article X: Contents of Writings, Recordings, and Photographs
- States that to prove the content of a writing, recording, or photograph, production of the original is required except as provided in these rules or by Act of Congress. Permits the admission of evidence other than the original to prove the contents of a writing, recording, or photograph if the original has been lost or destroyed (other than in bad faith), is unobtainable, in the possession of an opponent, or relates to collateral matters. States that the contents of an official record may be proved by certified copy. Allows the contents of voluminous writings, recordings, or photographs to be presented in the form of a chart, summary, or calculation for the sake of convenience.
Article XI: Miscellaneous Rules
- Sets forth provisions governing applicability of the Federal Rules of Evidence.
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Bill titles: A bill to establish rules of evidence for certain courts and proceedings.
Original source documents: Digest of the Congressional Record vol. 120-12, p. H569;
Links for more info on the vote: congress.gov