This course examines basic rules and principles of evidence law. It focuses on American federal law (the Federal Rules of Evidence and cases interpreting them) but also covers select state rules and cases. Topics covered include: presumptions and standards of proof and persuasion, judicial notice, relevance, privileges, authentication and best evidence rules, hearsay, lay, expert, and scientific expert evidence, examination and impeachment of witnesses, character and propensity evidence, and some of the constitutional questions that arise in connection with evidence. During the semester the course will examine some of the philosophical assumptions and methods on which judges and legislators rely when they adopt and apply rules of evidence. Because rules of evidence attempt to enable judges and jurors to form justified beliefs about guilt, innocence, and liability, understanding some of those philosophical assumptions and methods is very helpful for mastering the doctrines of evidence law. Evidence is a prerequisite for the Trial Advocacy Workshop and can be used as the basis for certification to practice in conjunction with any of the School's clinical offerings (there are other ways to do this as well).
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