JD_done wrote:locusdelicti wrote:HETPE3B wrote:Question for the Evidence buffs out there.
Please help me reconcile the following two points:
1. If there is a mistake in the admissibility of evidence, that error will only form the basis for an appeal if (a) a substantial right of a party has been affected; AND (b) the judge was notified of that error at trial.
2. Plain Error Rule: errors that affect substantial rights are grounds for reversal even if no objection or offer of proof was made.
If there's an error affecting substantial rights, do I or don't I need to notify the judge? What's the difference between being grounds for reversal and being basis for appeal and why is there a higher barrier for the latter?
I think you have to notify the judge of any error, affecting substantial rights or not.
If the substantial right has been affected and the judge is notified, it can be appealed, and the court of appeals will be able to review whether it is reversible or not. It's not automatically reversible; it just provides grounds for reversal.
Agreed. It's also helpful to go directly to FRE 103 and the committee notes. The way I understand it, 1) substantial right + 2) notifying court preserves it for appeal. The plain error rule allows a court, on appeal, to reverse (especially a criminal conviction) even if the trial court was not notified of the error and they are reviewing the case for another issue. (I looked at federal criminal procedure rule 52 for clarification)
I could be wrong
I like to think of the plain error rule as the fail-safe for appeals courts. The general rule is you need a substantial right affected to make an objection. The objection must be timely and specific. If timely and specific, then preserved for appeal. If counsel fails to do this, the appeals court still has the plain error rule in its pocket if they feel the need to reverse or decide the issue based on the substantial right not properly objected to/failure to provide offer of proof.