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14 Cards in this Set

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  • Back
How close must the relationship be between an item of evidence and the proposition it is offered to support?
Just close enough so the evidence could influence a rational fact finder in determining the truth or falsity of that proposition.
Is all relevant evidence admissible?

(FRE 402)
Yes, per FRE 402, all relevant evidence is admissible, except as otherwise provided by the Constitution or other Rules of Evidence, such as FRE 403 which excludes relevant evidence if its probative value is outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice.
What is the definition of "relevant evidence" per FRE 401? (aka "logical relevance)
Evidence that has a tendency to make the existence of any fact in issue more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence. Thus, it has a probative relationship to the fact at issue.
What is legal relevance? (Per FRE 403)
The probative value of the evidence must outweigh any prejudicial effect that the evidence has.
Per FRE 403, "Although relevant, evidence may be excluded if its probative value is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the jury, or by considerations of undue delay, waste of time, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence.
What is the purpose the relevancy concept?
It saves time by narrowing the topics parties have to develop in preparation for trial. It also increases the perceived legitimacy of trials by ensuring that outcomes will be based on data most people would believe have something to do with the controversy.
Who decides questions of admissibility under common law, Federal Rules and CA Rules of Evidence?
The Judge (The Court). Per CEC 310(a), all questions of law, including those concerning the admissibility of evidence, are to be decided by the court."
How high is the relevancy threshold?
Not very high at all. Evidence can clear the relevancy threshold with a very small showing. the judge must merely believe that a rational fact finder could be influenced by the material in deciding the existence of a fact. Strong influence is not required.
What is the difference between relevance and sufficiency? (i.e., "a brick is not a wall."
A piece of evidence need only be a brick in the wall; not the whole wall itself. This is because a piece of evidence is relevant if it has "any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence."
What two situations would cause a piece of relevant evidence to be inadmissible because of its risk of "unfair prejudice"?
1. When a factfinder might react to aspects of evidence in a way that is not supposed to be part of the evaluative process; AND
2. If there is a risk that a juror will give undue probative weight to the relevant item of evidence.
Would evidence in an assault case that D belonged to a cult that worships violence be considered inadmissible b/c of "unfair prejudice"?
Probably. Jurors might develop negative impressions about D based on their feelings of aversion to people who belong to weird cults, which impressions would be an example of unfair prejudice b/c they are unrelated to the probative value the religion information has with respect to the charged crime. They flow from juror's reactions to information about the person that would cause revulsion whether or not it was linked to the events of an alleged rimcrime, and not from a belief that the D did commit the crime.
how does a judge determine whether the risk of unfair prejudice substantially outweighs the probative value of evidence?
He is required to do some kind of weighing, although this process is not a literal measurement as there is no scale on which degrees of probativeness and prejudice can be quantified.
How do appellate courts treat trial court rulings on the admissibility of evidence?
They usually defer to the trial court rulings. Even if evidence has only slight probative value, an appellate court will rarely reject a trial court's ruling that its legitimate value exceeds the risk of unfair prejudice associated with the evidence.
Why are courts typically reluctant to admit statistic probability evidence? (See People v. Collins)
Because there is a likelihood that it will be very impressive to juries who may then have difficulty in adopting a critical stance toward it. In People v. Collins, the prosecution introduced expert testimony re: the statistical probability that a black man with a beard and a blonde white woman would be seen together (as corroborated by eyewitness testimony). CA SCT overruled trial court's admission of this evidence b/c it felt that the jurors might improperly confuse the probability of a couple possessing the traits possessed by Ds with the probability that Ds were guilty.
Why are courts particularly reluctant to admit probability evidence on issues such as the identity of wrongdoers?
Because in criminal cases, the factfinder is supposed to be persuaded beyond a reasonable doubt, while probability evidence by its nature incorporates some degree of doubt. And even in civil cases, where the standard of proof is a preponderance of the evidence, some courts may beleive that probability evidence cannot be weighed fairly with other types of information.