This research paper aims to investigate the question of admissibility and inadmissibility of evidence in various areas of the judicial system. One can hardly deny that the topic under discussion is significantly broad, and thus it is not possible to analyze it within the frame of this study. However, this research paper provides a considerably profound overview of the problem’s various aspects, including the admissibility of evidence in the cases of child abuse, gun ownership, class certification, and several others. Each of the aspects is investigated with references to academic literature.
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It could hardly be doubted that evidence plays an important role during criminal trials. One of the most controversial and widely debated questions regarding this aspect of litigations is the admissibility and inadmissibility of evidence in courts. As it is pointed out by Curry (2015), the employment of particular types of evidence could have both beneficial and adverse effects on the final decision of the court, having a direct impact on the defendant’s life.
Therefore, it is apparent that there are various laws and regulations, which aim to answer the following question: What can be considered as an admissible evidence, and which types of evidence should be excluded from the trial? The topic itself, as well as the mentioned question, are evidently broad, which makes it possible to debate over particular theoretical and practical peculiarities of using the evidence.
This paper aims to investigate the topic under consideration primarily by referencing academic literature. As it is already observed, the topic is significantly broad, and thus the research has the purpose of highlighting some particular aspects of the topic, which appear to be the most interesting for the case. Also, the investigation of the different theoretical and practical questions of admissibility and inadmissibility of evidence would help to obtain a more profound picture of how evidence is employed in the contemporary judicial system. The paper also has the purpose of developing meaningful conclusions based on the findings from scholarly literature.
Expert Evidence and Its Influence on the Outcomes of Criminal Trials
First of all, it would be appropriate to start the discussion with the overview of the concept of expert evidence since it is a highly applicable judicial means, which is used in various circumstances, for example, in the process of class certification (Jelinek, 2018). Curry (2015), introducing this concept, claims that the admissibility of this type of evidence could be both beneficial and adverse for the trial. On the one hand, the advancement in science and technology allows solving more complicated crimes, which could not be solved previously (Curry, 2015). However, it is also mentioned that expert evidence can cause innocent people to be convicted of crimes, which they never committed (Curry, 2015).
Cole and Edmond (2015) observe that controversy usually surround the admission of expert evidence, and thus it is essential to regulate this aspect of legal proceeding more thoroughly. Curry (2015), indicating that the admissibility of expert evidence is currently criticized by numerous scientists and scholars due to the lack of standards of reliability, states that it could be beneficial to consult with independent forensic scientists. This aspect will be more thoroughly elaborated in the following section.
Admissibility and Exclusion of Reports Concerning Child Abuse
It is also of high importance to overview the problem of child abuse. It could hardly be denied that the issue under discussion involves an additional amount of consideration due to its nature. It could also be stated with certainty that the court’s decision to admiss or dismiss various reports into the cases about child abuse has a direct impact on the outcomes of the trial. Therefore, one can argue that this sphere should be properly regulated in terms of the admissibility of evidence.
The article by Phipps, French, and MacDonald (2015) indicates that there three primary categories of reports of child abuse. An indicated report is usually supported by credible evidence, while unfounded reports are not supported by such type of evidence (Phipps et al., 2015). Also, both previously mentioned types of reports could be expunged if a certain time lapse or the evidence is insufficiently supported. Expunged reports are fully inadmissible in courts (Phipps et al., 2015). On the contrary, indicated reports are generally admissible, especially when they comply with “business record exemption to the hearsay rule” (Phipps et al., 2015, p. 7). Unfounded reports are usually inadmissible in custody litigation; however, they could be admitted in civil litigations (Phipps et al., 2015).
The Rule of Completeness
The article by Baker (2018) is an example of a profound investigation in the field, which is related to the topic under discussion. The author observes that that little attention is paid to the rule of completeness, which is embodied in Rule 106 of the Federal Rules of Evidence (Baker, 2018). It is also argued that there are three perspectives on the application of this rule. Some interpret Rule 106 as a mere rule of timing, allowing to admit the evidence at a more appropriate (or advantageous) time, while others indicate that the rule has a trumping function, which means that.
Practically, any evidence could become admissible, disregarding its admissibility taken separately (Baker, 2018). Another perspective on this issue is formulated the following way: judicial discretion rule should regulate the application of the rule of completion (Baker, 2018). One of the principal findings, which could be retrieved from this article, is that the decisions about the admissibility of the evidence are often based on the judge’s premises about the case.
Admissibility of Forensic Science Evidence
The article by Cole and Edmond (2015) focuses primarily on the issue of correlation between the use of forensic science and criminal trial outcomes. The authors, mentioning the United States National Research Council (NRC) report, state that the employment of the forensic sciences, as well as the performance of legal institutions, have been criticized lately (Cole & Edmond, 2015). One of the principal findings of the article under discussion is that courts tend to give “relatively little weight to “science” even when available as an official report from an authoritative institution” (Cole & Edmond, 2015, p. 585).
Based on the investigation of the NRC reports, the authors categorize expert evidence from forensic sciences into successfully and unsuccessfully met challenges (Cole & Edmond, 2015). For example, drug tests and ballistic expertise are mentioned among the successfully met challenges while mediating and inoculating of science appear to be successful approaches (Cole & Edmond, 2015). Overall, it could be stated that standards for the admission of expert evidence should be changed concerning the recent controversy, which surrounds this type of evidence.
Federal Rule of Evidence 403
Further, it is of high importance to discuss joint criminal trials, which is a relatively common practice in the contemporary judicial system, and it also has considerable implications for the issue of evidence admissibility. The article by Dodson (2016) investigates this question in the context of “potential Sixth Amendment issues under Bruton v. the United States” (p. 804). As it is mentioned by the author, in Burton cases, the court usually employs Federal Rule of Evidence 403, which provides courts with a balancing test “to determine whether to admit evidence that is admissible at trial for one purpose but inadmissible for another” (Dodson, 2016, p. 805).
Dodson (2016) also states that the application of this rule in the context of Burton violations, despite being applicable to other areas of evidence law, fails to adequately protect the codefendant’s constitutional rights. It could be concluded that while Rule 403 appears to significantly useful for decision making in regard to evidence, there are considerable limitations of this method along with numerous peculiarities, which have to be considered in every particular case.
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Admissibility Of Hearsay Evidence in Ethiopia
Another interesting example of evidence law is presented by the issue of admissibility of hearsay evidence in the Ethiopian legal framework. Zenebe (2016) states that while Ethiopia generally follows a common law approach to evidentiary principles and regulation, the country does not have a strictly codified and compiled evidence law. This situation evidently imposes several problems regarding criminal trials in Ethiopia. Zenebe (2016) primarily focuses on the admissibility of hearsay evidence since numerous issues are addressed in the context of this problem. One of the principal findings of this article is that hearsay law is employed inadequately in Ethiopia.
According to Article 137(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), the term “indirect knowledge” could be interpreted as hearsay evidence, and thus the decision about admissibility and inadmissibility (Zenebe, 2016, p. 142). Further, it is also observed that this law could be employed as a means of stifling opposition in Ethiopia due to its nature. Therefore, it could be stated that judicial decision-making should not be interfered with by such interpretations.
Class Certification in the Context of Admissibility of Evidence
Another area of law in which the admissibility of evidence plays a considerable role in the process of class certification. According to the research by Jelinek (2018), the importance of evidence during class certification proceedings is immensely important in the current law system. For example, the U. S. Supreme Court decided in 2011 that Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) should be adequately satisfied in order to prove the certification (Jelinek, 2018).
It is mentioned in the article that several courts in the Ninth Circuit share the following opinion: a strict requirement of admissibility is neglected by the preliminary nature of class certification (Jelinek, 2018). Overall, there are numerous debatable aspects about class certification proceedings and the admissibility of evidence in these cases. However, Jelinek (2018) argues that judges should maintain the discretion to consider inadmissible evidence while making a decision about certifying a class.
Admissibility of Weapons in Criminal Trials
It is also of high importance to overview such area of criminal law as the admissibility of gun evidence to the case and the influence of such admission on the final decision about the defendant’s innocence. The article by Melear (2013) explores potential issues related to the identified area of concern. In particular, she focuses on the admissibility of weapons, which were not used in the particular crime. Therefore, the admission of such evidence could have a considerable adverse effect on the defendant’s image in the eye of the judge and jury.
In the article, Melear (2013) reasonably observes that “courts point to the prejudice due to the possibility of a propensity-line of reasoning based on a defendant’s gun ownership” (p. 318). Thus, it is apparent that the judicial decision-making about the admissibility of gun ownership evidence should be made with significant caution. Further, if such evidence is somehow introduced to the court, “the trial court must consider its relevancy, either to the perpetration of the crime or to the credibility of a witness, and then weigh the probative value, if any, against the possibility of unfair prejudice to the defendant” (Melear, 2013, p. 321). Therefore, it should be stated that the admissibility of weapons non-related to the case is a debatable decision, which imposes a considerable threat to the impartiality of the court.
In conclusion, one should restate the immensely broad range of problems, which is related to the topic of admissibility and inadmissibility of evidence. This paper, having the purpose of investigating this area of the judicial system, has conducted literature research to retrieve academic sources on the topic. It could hardly be doubted that this study does not cover every aspect of the problem to the full extent. However, it is possible to state that this paper represents a considerably profound investigation of the topic, which could be used later to elaborate on a particular aspect of the issue more thoroughly.
Baker, H. F. (2018). Completing the rule of completeness: Amending rule 106 of the federal rules of evidence. Creighton Law Review, 51, 281-318.
Cole, S. A., & Edmond, G. (2015). Science without precedent: The impact of the National Research Council Report on the admissibility and use of forensic science evidence in the United States. Brit. J. Am. Legal Stud., 4, 585-617.
Curry, M. (2015). Evidence: Science in court: Challenging the value of expert evidence. LSJ: Law Society of NSW Journal, 15, 84-85.
Dodson, M. (2016). Bruton on balance: Standardizing redacted codefendant confessions through Federal Rule of Evidence 403. Vanderbilt Law Review, 69(3), 803-843.
Jelinek, L. (2018). The applicability of the federal rules of evidence at class certification. UCLA Law Review, 65(1).
Melear, M. (2013). The admissibility of weapons not used in the crime charged. Thomas L. Rev., 26, 309-321.
Phipps, C., French, D., & MacDonald, G. (2015). Admissibility of indicated, unfounded and expunged reports of child abuse or neglect and their use by attorney for the childs in custody litigation. Web.
Zenebe, G. S. (2016). Admissibility of hearsay evidence in criminal trials: An appraisal of the Ethiopian legal framework. Haramaya Law Review, 5(1), 115-143.