Monday, May 25, 2020
Federal Rule of Evidence 615 states that
At a party’s request, the court must order witnesses excluded so that they cannot hear other witnesses’ testimony. Or the court may do so on its own. But this rule does not authorize excluding:
(a) a party who is a natural person;
(b) an officer or employee of a party that is not a natural person, after being designated as the party’s representative by its attorney;
(c) a person whose presence a party shows to be essential to presenting the party’s claim or defense; or
(d) a person authorized by statute to be present.
But can a judge use Rule 615 to do more than sequester witnesses from the courtroom? The recent opinion of the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico in United States v. Baca, 2020 WL 1325118 (D.N.M. 2020), does a deep dive into Rule 615.
Sunday, May 24, 2020
Supreme Court of Delaware Finds Judge's Colloquy with 4 Year-Old Witness Sufficient to Establish Competency
Every person is competent to be a witness unless these rules provide otherwise.
Attorneys most commonly attempt to have child witnesses deemed incompetent under Rule 601, but they are usually unsuccessful, as was the case in Cathell v. State, 2020 WL 1157921 (Del. 2020).
Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Federal Rule of Evidence 610 states that
Evidence of a witness’s religious beliefs or opinions is not admissible to attack or support the witness’s credibility.
A good example of a line of questioning that violates Rule 610 can be found in the recent opinion of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division in Grewal v. Greda, 2020 WL 2464760 (2020).
Monday, May 18, 2020
Federal Rule of Evidence 201 covers judicial notice, and subsections (a) and (b) state the following:
(a) Scope. This rule governs judicial notice of an adjudicative fact only, not a legislative fact.
(b) Kinds of Facts That May Be Judicially Noticed. The court may judicially notice a fact that is not subject to reasonable dispute because it:
(1) is generally known within the trial court’s territorial jurisdiction; or
(2) can be accurately and readily determined from sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned.
So, can a judge take judicial notice of dictionary definitions? That was the question addressed by the Eleventh Circuit in its recent opinion in Robinson v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, 2020 WL 2315763 (11th Cir. 2020).