This course covers the limitations on the information that can be introduced in court codified in the Federal Rules of Evidence. We will 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 also address the rules pertaining to the reliability of evidence, including the prohibition against hearsay and its many exceptions, the constitutional constraints on the testimony offered during criminal trials, scientific and expert testimony, and authentication. The course touches on evidentiary privileges as well. 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 film. 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.
Please note that course organization and content may vary substantially from semester to semester and descriptions are not necessarily professor specific. Please contact the instructor directly if you have particular course-related questions.