Best evidence rule

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irish017
Posts: 111
Joined: Mon Aug 25, 2008 1:19 pm

Best evidence rule

Postby irish017 » Tue Dec 06, 2011 5:02 pm

I'm having trouble figuring out when to actually apply the best evidence rule. Do I only apply it when a party is trying to prove the contents of a writing or photo...ect?

StyrofoamWar
Posts: 126
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 6:16 pm

Re: Best evidence rule

Postby StyrofoamWar » Tue Dec 06, 2011 6:07 pm

BER applies when:

1) The contents of a document is something that has to be proved; in other words, the document itself has "independent legal significance". For example, in a breach of a lease case, the lease terms have independent legal significance since they are the terms at issue. Accordingly, courts require that the document itself be introduced, rather than allowing someone to get up on the stand and testify about the contents of the document. It makes sense if you think about it, honestly, because the terms of the document are so important and if a witness from either party got up on the stand, they might have an incentive to mischaracterize the terms, etc in order to favor their side. Accordingly, courts say "nope, bring us the document."

2) Also, the BER applies when a witness's only knowledge of something stems from a document. For example, if a witness gets up on the stand and says "a delivery was made" and the attorney asks "how do you know?" and witness responds "because I saw a receipt", the BER rule will require that you bring the delivery receipt itself in for basically the exact same worries of fraud, etc.

Renzo
Posts: 4265
Joined: Tue Dec 02, 2008 3:23 am

Re: Best evidence rule

Postby Renzo » Tue Dec 06, 2011 11:43 pm

StyrofoamWar wrote:BER applies when:

1) The contents of a document is something that has to be proved; in other words, the document itself has "independent legal significance". For example, in a breach of a lease case, the lease terms have independent legal significance since they are the terms at issue. Accordingly, courts require that the document itself be introduced, rather than allowing someone to get up on the stand and testify about the contents of the document. It makes sense if you think about it, honestly, because the terms of the document are so important and if a witness from either party got up on the stand, they might have an incentive to mischaracterize the terms, etc in order to favor their side. Accordingly, courts say "nope, bring us the document."

2) Also, the BER applies when a witness's only knowledge of something stems from a document. For example, if a witness gets up on the stand and says "a delivery was made" and the attorney asks "how do you know?" and witness responds "because I saw a receipt", the BER rule will require that you bring the delivery receipt itself in for basically the exact same worries of fraud, etc.


This is a very good summary.




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