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C o u r t r o o m®

Game of Legal Intrigue

 

Rules of Evidence



Rules of Evidence Card 3


AUTHENTICATION & IDENTIFICATION


Tangible evidence, to be admissible, must be authenticated or identified, so that the court is assured it is what its proponent claims it is.

Physical objects, voices and writings may be authenticated by someone with personal knowledge of the object, voice or writing.

Handwriting can be authenticated by someone who is familiar with that handwriting. An expert is not required. Voices also may be identified by non-experts. Voices and physical objects may be identified by distinctive markings or characteristics.

Physical objects can be authenticated if witnesses can testify to a continuous chain of possession, accounting for the objects' whereabouts from the time of an Incident to the present.

Documents which by their nature are self-authenticating and therefore admissible include newspapers and Periodicals, trade inscriptions, notarized documents, commercial paper, Acts of Congress, official publications, domestic public documents bearing a seal, foreign public documents, certified copies of public documents, and any document (Ancient Documents) more than twenty years old that is unsuspicious in nature.

Polygraph tests are inadmissible as evidence.


CONTENTS OF WRITINGS, RECORDINGS & PHOTOGRAPHS


To prove the content of a writing, recording, or photograph, the original is generally required.

"Originals" includes such items as negatives and prints of photographs, carbon copies, and photocopies of business records.

Exceptions:
  1. Duplicates are admissible if the original is unavailable and there is no question as to the authenticity of the original.
  2. Other evidence of contents is admissible if the originals were lost, destroyed, not obtainable, it is impractical to produce them or they are in the possession on one's opponent (e.g., the opponent was put on notice that the document would be required at the hearing, and he does not produce the document at the hearing).
  3. When a witness without personal knowledge of an event testifies, he must produce the document (a receipt to prove payment, an x-ray to prove injury, a transcript to prove testimony at a former trial.)
  4. When the witness has first-hand knowledge of an event, he does not need to produce the verifying documentation - for example, a doctor would not need to produce a medical report to prove his findings at a medical examination.
  5. The "Best Evidence" available must be used to prove the contents of a writing or recording. If the original is available, it must be produced. If the original is not available, then a copy must be produced. If a copy can not be produced, oral testimony concerning the issue may be taken.




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