Evidence - Relevance
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- FRE: Evidence is relevant if it has:
- 1) any tendency to make
- 2) the existence of any fact of consequence to the action
- 3) more or less probable than it would be without the evidence
- CA: requires that the fact must also be in dispute [watch out if D admits to shooting the victim]
Even if logically relevant, if probative value is outweighed by unfair prejudice, confusion or waste of time, the court has the discretion to exclude.
What can you do if evidence is properly used for another purpose, but also affects the improper purpose?
- 1) Argue legal relevance or
- 2) limiting instruction, or
- 3) find another way to exclude.
Exclusions for Policy Reasons
- 1. Liability Insurance
- 2. Subsequent Remedial Measures
- 3. Settlement Offers
- 4. Payment for medical expenses
- 5. Guilty Pleas
Liability Insurance Exclusion?
- Inadmissible to show:
- 1) culpable conduct or
- 2) ability to pay (deep pockets).
- But admissible for other purposes.
Subsequent remedial measure or repairs, what is an inadmissible purpose?
- Evidence of subsequent remedial measures or repairs after an accident is inadmissible to prove
- 1) culpable conduct (ex: negligence) or
- 2) defective design for products liability action
Subsequent remedial measures or repais, what is an admissible purpose?
- Evidence of SRM is admissible to rebut:
- 1) D's assertion that no feasible precaution could have been taken ("nothing I could have done") or
- 2) D's assertion of no responsibility/ownership
- CA: admissible to prove
- 3) products liability under strict liability (e.g., defective design)
Offers to settle, pleas, settlements, and related statements, what is inadmissible?
- Inadmissible against the defendant to prove:
- 1) liability or fault in a civil case, or
- 2) guilt in a criminal case (or no lo contendere).
- Note: In order to settle something, there first must be a claim asserted (filing of a lawsuit; youre going hear from my lawyer) and in dispute.
- Note: related statements are ALSO INADMISSIBLE
- 3) CA Only: Discussions that occur during mediation proceedings are also inadmissible
Settlements/Pleas Exceptions, when are they admisisble?
- 1) The defendant just blurts out something, and there is no claim yet (or threatened)
- 2) No dispute as to liability or damages - Defendant said I admit I owe you the full $10,000 you are claiming, but I'll only pay you $5,000. Take it or leave it! Admissible.
- 3) CA: Prop. 8 might apply to pleas and allow them to be admitted [normally inadmissible under both Fed and CEC]. Argue that court may still exclude for unfair prejudice (under CEC 352).
Offer to pay medical expenses:
- 1) Inadmissible to prove liability for the injuries,
- 2) BUT, related statements are STILL ADMISSIBLE
- CA: Related statements ALSO INADMISSIBLE
Expressions of sympathy:
- **California only**
- expressions of sympathy relating to suffering or death of an accident victim are inadmissible.
- Related statements are ADMISSIBLE
Similar occurrences with differnet people/different events
- sometimes admissible to prove causation
- admissible if there are similarities b/n evidence and people & events at issue
- Example: chicken McNuggets food poisoning, P can testify that Ronald McDonald was in next bed at hospital, and got sick eating McNuggets at same restaurant at same time. Relevant to prove causation.
Prior accidents or claims of Plaintiff
- Generally INadmissible
- Evidence of prior accidents or prior occasions are inadmissible to prove negligence as to plaintiffs conduct this time.
- Exception: pattern of prior fraudulent claims by Plaintiff is admissible
- Exception: plaintiff's pre-existing condition is admissible (shows lack of causation, also goes to damages)
Previous similar acts
- admissible for limited purposes . . .
- 1) to show intent
- Example: employment discrimination on gender, P shows D hired males in 100 other positions.
- Relevant to show intent to discriminate, admissible.
- 2) to rebut a defense of impossibility
- 3) to prove value, if it's a comparable sale of property
- 4) to prove habit
- 5) to prove routine business practice [business habit] (conduct in conformity with routine business practice on the occassion in question)
- 6) to prove industry custom practice [establish standard of care in a negligence case]
What is habit evidence?
- Habit: specific conduct in a specific situation, and does not carry with it any moral judgment (describing in neutral way what D does in a specific situation)
- Must be frequently repeated conduct, not just a couple of instances.
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