Articles Tagged with evidence

Rule 104 of the Tennessee Rules of Evidence permits the trial judge significant leeway in what may be considered in determining what evidence can be admitted at trial.  It provides as follows:

Rule 104. Preliminary questions. —(a) Questions of Admissibility Generally. —Preliminary questions concerning the qualification of a person to be a witness, the existence of a privilege, or the admissibility of evidence shall be determined by the court, subject to the provisions of subdivision (b). In making its determination the court is not bound by the rules of evidence except those with respect to privileges.

Here is subdivision (b):

The Tennessee Supreme Court has asked for public comment on proposed changes to the rules of procedure and evidence.  The Order asking for public comment can be viewed here.  

I serve on the Court’s Advisory Commission on the Rules of Practice and Procedure and I am happy to report that the Court has accepted (at least for purposes of public comment) each of the rule changes proposed by the Commission.  

Significant proposed changes to the rules of civil procedure  include changes to clarify Rule 3 and 4 concerning the need to serve a summons and complaint promptly after filing of the complaint and issuance of the summons, Rule 5 concerning the electronic service of pleadings, motions and other documents, and Rule 26 concerning the discovery of insurance policy limits.  The most significant change to the rules of evidence is new Rule 502 concerning the inadvertent waiver of the privilege.

The trial of virtually every personal injury or wrongful death case involves the use of one or more photographs. 

The recent decision in Zerega Ave. Realty Corp. v. Hornbeck Offshore Transp., LLC, __ F.3d __ (2d Cir. July 6, 2009) (No. 08-0639-CV) reminds us that the failure to lay a proper foundation will result in exclusion of photographs at trial.   The opinion reminds us that the "standard for admissibility of photographs requires the witness to recognize and identify the object depicted and testify that the photograph is a fair representation of what it purports to portray." The witness attempting to authenticate the photographs identified the object but was not asked whether the photograph was a fair and accurate representation of the object.  The exclusion of the photograph was affirmed on appeal.

Recall that "[t]he witness qualifying a photograph … does not need to be the photographer or see the picture taken. It is only necessary that he recognize and identify the object depicted and testify that the photograph fairly and correctly represents it.” Kleveland v. United States, 345 F.2d 134, 137 (2d Cir. 1965)