Rules of evidence and hearsay tend to be confusing and intimidating that people outside of the legal profession just tend to not want to have anything to do with it. But to people working in the criminal justice system or adjacent to it, it pays to have some level of knowledge and familiarity with this to better perform our duties and influence what it is within our purview towards the goal of ensuring justice is served.
Providing an overview of hearsay and rules of evidence is Daniel Coble. Daniel is the owner of Coble Law Group, writes for his legal blog Everyday Evidence, is a member of the S.C. Bar Publications Committee, and published two books, Pocket Prelims and Florida Rules of Evidence. He previously served as a Magistrate Judge for Richland County from 2017-2021 and as a prosecutor in Columbia, South Carolina.
Specifics of Daniel’s discussion include:
- Why rules of evidence are seen as intimidating and complex, and the benefits of familiarity with them.
- The 15/90 rule which helps narrow down the major areas to familiarize with to make it through trials.
- Understanding the rationale behind evidence being offered, objecting to evidence, and the substance and style of objections.
- How a fundamental understanding of the rules of evidence can result in better case outcomes.
- A rundown of the general areas of the rules of evidence to primarily familiarize with.
- Breaking down the 10 must-know rules of evidence which includes its use, admissibility, exceptions, and examples.
- Relevance – which looks at the probative value of the evidence versus its prejudicial effect.
- Prior Bad Acts – where a person’s character or action in the past is not admissible to prove criminal conduct.
- Character Evidence – which pertains to the person’s reputation or specific instances of conduct.
- Impeachment (608) – which assesses the witness’ truthfulness and credibility.
- Impeachment due to prior conviction – that investigates an individual’s prior criminal conviction and specific factors surrounding it.
- Impeachment due to prior inconsistent statement – that examines the consistency of a witness’ statements.
- Hearsay – which scrutinizes the truth of the matter asserted.
- Authentication – which goes through the process of authenticating evidence either through another piece of evidence or self-authentication.
- Distinguishing hearsay from non-hearsay and recognizing testimonials.
- The most common exceptions to hearsay and when there is a need to explain a declarant’s absence.
- Application of the rules of evidence through publication.
- Guidelines and helpful tips when preparing for publication.
- Information that must be shared with the judge and the opposing party before a trial.
- The value in practicing the lines related to rules of evidence.
- Ensuring proper publication of the evidence by laying out the foundation, introducing, and publishing it for the jury.
- Common mistakes committed with publication.
- The value of explaining the exhibit to the jury so they understand its relevance to the case.
Points raised during the Q&A are about:
- Defendants testifying in a trial.
- Time limit as to how far back to go when it comes to relevance and prior bad acts.
- Admissible evidence and non-hearsay information a family can provide to support a domestic violence victim.
- Cases that dictate when an officer must write their report.
- Challenging an expert witness and the jury’s attention span when listening to expert testimony.
- Authenticating an anonymous 911 call.
- Evidentiary issues that are best handled in limine.
- Admissibility of reports, recordings, and forms from the time of the incident.
Other Webinars with this Speaker
- July 7: Search and Seizure Law and Terry Stops
- Oct 6: He Said/She Said: When Can Hearsay Come into Court? (this webinar)
Resources and Handouts
- “The speaker was very knowledgeable on the topic. I teach constitutional law and the content will assist me in teaching students.” — Kristen
- “I wish I had this information when I was actively involved in prosecuting parole violation cases.” — Mary
- “Thank you to the presenter for sharing his time and knowledge.” — Rose
- “The most valuable thing I learned was qualifying and immediately getting the expert’s opinion upfront before the just gets tired/bored. Very smart. Also, the comment about confidence was a gentle reminder.” — Rebecca
- “I think the instructor did a fantastic job on this presentation.” — Todd
- “I have never had to go to court before. This whole presentation was very valuable to me.” — Wendy
- “Very interesting and Mr. Coble explained things very well.” — Cheryl