Laws of Evidence

The defendant was prosecuted for the murder of his wife. The victim’s body was never recovered, no murder weapon was ever found, and there were no witnesses to the crime. At trial, prosecution would like to introduce the following as evidence: 1. A computer disk, found in the defendant’s desk, that contains a file named “murder” which appears to be a twenty six step guide on how to carry out a murder. 2. A witness who will testify that two days prior to the victim’s disappearance, the defendant purchased a .25 caliber pistol. 3. A witness who will testify that the defendant told him that the best way to kill someone else was to shoot them behind the ear.

4. A witness who will testify that the defendant told her that she shouldn’t be surprised if six months down the road… “you hear that Shirley is dead because I am going to kill her.” 5. A witness who will testify that the defendant asked him how he could remove blood from concrete. 6. A witness who will testify that the defendant told her that there might be bodies hidden in the mine shafts in Pennsylvania, and that if he wanted to get rid of his wife, nobody would ever see her again. Defense objects to this evidence being introduced, claiming that it is irrelevant and more prejudicial than probative.

ISSUES PRESENTED

Based on the Federal Rules of Evidence, Rules 401, 402, and 403…. I. Is the computer disk that contains a twenty six step guide on how to carry out a murder and was found in the defendant’s desk admissible evidence in this case? II. Is a witness who will testify that two days prior to the victim’s disappearance, the defendant purchased a .25 caliber pistol admissible evidence in this case? III. Is a witness who will testify that the defendant told him that the best way to kill someone else was to shoot them behind the ear admissible evidence in this case? IV.

A witness who will testify that the defendant told her that she shouldn’t be surprised if six months down the road… “you hear that Shirley is dead because I am going to kill her.” V. Is a witness who will testify that the defendant asked him how he could remove blood from concrete admissible evidence in this case? VI. Is a witness who will testify that the defendant told her that there might be bodies hidden in the mine shafts in Pennsylvania, and that if he wanted to get rid of his wife, nobody would ever see her again admissible evidence in this case? DISCUSSION OF RELEVANT RULES

Rule 401 of the Federal Rules of Evidence defines evidence as relevant if it has a tendency to make the existence of a fact that is of importance to the case more or less likely than it would be if the evidence did not exist. See Fed. R. Evid. 401(2011). The evidence by itself does not have to prove the main issue for which it is offered. The tendency to make an important element even the slightest bit more or less likely is enough to make the evidence relevant. Whether or not evidence proves or helps to prove a fact that is important to the case is a key element in determining the admissibility of evidence. If this element is satisfied, then the evidence has probative value.

Rule 402 of the Federal Rules of Evidence provides that, unless prohibited by the United States Constitution, a federal statute, rules of the Supreme Court, or the Federal Rules of Evidence, relevant evidence is admissible. See Fed. R. Evid. 402(2011). Although relevance is a required element for the admissibility of evidence, it is not a sufficient one. According to Rule 403 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, if the prejudicial effects of the evidence substantially outweighs its probative value, the relevant evidence may be excluded.

See Fed. R. Evid. 403(2011). In order for it to meet the requirements to be excluded, the danger of unfair prejudice, confusing the issues, the jury being misled, undue delay, time being wasted, or unnecessary presentation of cumulative evidence has to greatly outweigh the probative value of the evidence. If harm that is not related to the legal issue of the case will be done to a party by the introduction of the evidence, then the evidence prejudicial.

A fact often possesses both probative and prejudicial effects, in which case it is then left up to the court to determine if the prejudicial effects outweigh the probative value enough to exclude the evidence, or if the probative value of the evidence outweighs the prejudicial effects enough to deem the evidence as admissible. Prejudicial evidence tends to discredit the accused and make the jury dislike him/her more, and offers little or no insight to the matter of the case or assistance in the search for the truth.

ANALYSIS ISSUE I

Is the computer disk that was found in the defendant’s desk containing a file named “murder” which appears to be a twenty six step guide on how to carry out a murder admissible evidence in this case? Although this evidence does not necessarily prove that the defendant is guilty of murdering his wife, it does have the tendency to prove that the defendant was interested in gaining the knowledge of how to carry out a murder.

This evidence also helps make it a little more likely that the defendant was involved in his wife’s disappearance and adds some insight to the matters of the case. Therefore, according to Rule 401 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, the computer disk is relevant evidence in this case and possesses probative value. This evidence does not present any danger or a great enough danger of confusing the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay, waste of time, or unnecessary presentation of cumulative evidence.

“All relevant evidence is prejudicial in the sense that it may prejudice the party against whom it is admitted. Rule 403, however, is concerned only with unfair prejudice.” See United States v Russell, 971 F. 2d 1098. When determining whether or not the prejudicial effects outweigh the probative value, the courts must view the evidence in the manner that is most favorable to the person presenting it and maximize its probative value and minimize its prejudicial effects. Introduction of the computer disk as evidence at the trial does not present a danger of unfair prejudice. Therefore, the evidence is not excluded under Rule 403 of the Federal Rules of Evidence.

CONCLUSION ISSUE I

This evidence satisfies the necessary requirement of relevancy according to Rule 401 of the Federal Rules of Evidence and is not excluded under Rule 403 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. Therefore, according to Rule 402 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, which provides that unless otherwise prohibited, relevant evidence is admissible, the computer disk is admissible evidence in this case.

ANALYSIS ISSUE II

Is a witness who will testify that the defendant purchased a .25 caliber pistol two days prior to the victim’s disappearance admissible evidence? Although this evidence alone may not actually prove anything, it does tend to make it at least a little more likely that the defendant was involved in the disappearance of his wife.

This evidence, along with the other evidence that is present, helps put the pieces together and assists in the search for the truth. According to Rule 401 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, since the witness’ testimony tends to make it more likely that the defendant was involved in his wife’s disappearance than it would be if the evidence did not exist, it satisfies the requirement of relevant evidence.

This evidence does not present a danger of confusing the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay, waste of time, unnecessary presentation of cumulative evidence, or unfair prejudice. The probative value of the evidence outweighs any prejudicial effects the evidence may have. Therefore, this evidence is not excluded under Rule 403 of the Federal Rules of Evidence.

CONCLUSION ISSUE II

This evidence satisfies the necessary requirement of relevancy according to Rule 401 of the Federal Rules of Evidence and is not excluded under Rule 403 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. Therefore, according to Rule 402 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, which provides that unless otherwise prohibited, relevant evidence is admissible, the witness who will testify that the defendant purchased a .25 caliber pistol two days prior to the victim’s disappearance is admissible evidence in this case.

ANALYSIS ISSUE III

Is a witness who will testify that the defendant told him that the best way to kill someone else was to shoot them behind the ear admissible evidence in this case? This evidence helps establish that the defendant has contemplated committing murder and the best way to do so. This, along with the other evidence present, makes it a good bit more likely that the defendant did in fact murder his wife.

Therefore, this witness testimony helps to prove an important fact of the case, which makes the evidence probative. It also makes an important element of the case more likely than it would be if the evidence did not exist, which satisfies the requirement for relevant evidence. According to Federal Rules of Evidence Rule 401, this evidence is relevant.

This evidence does not present a danger of confusing the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay, waste of time, unnecessary presentation of cumulative evidence, or unfair prejudice. The probative value of the evidence outweighs any prejudicial effects the evidence may have. Therefore, this evidence is not excluded under Rule 403 of the Federal Rules of Evidence.

CONCLUSION ISSUE III

This evidence satisfies the necessary requirement of relevancy according to Rule 401 of the Federal Rules of Evidence and is not excluded under Rule 403 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. Therefore, according to Rule 402 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, which provides that unless otherwise prohibited, relevant evidence is admissible, the witness who will testify that the defendant told him that the best way to kill someone else was to shoot them behind the ear is admissible evidence in this case.

ANALYSIS ISSUE IV

Is a witness who will testify that the defendant told her that she shouldn’t be surprised if six months down the road… “you hear that Shirley is dead because I am going to kill her” admissible evidence in this case? This evidence tends to prove that the defendant had intentions of and planned on murdering his wife. This evidence definitely makes it more likely that the defendant did in fact murder his wife. According to Rule 401 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, since this evidence makes a fact that is important to the case more likely and it helps to prove something, then it is relevant.

This evidence does not present a danger of confusing the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay, waste of time, unnecessary presentation of cumulative evidence, or unfair prejudice. The probative value of the evidence outweighs any prejudicial effects the evidence may have. Therefore, this evidence is not excluded under Rule 403 of the Federal Rules of Evidence.

CONCLUSION ISSUE IV

This evidence satisfies the necessary requirement of relevancy according to Rule 401 of the Federal Rules of Evidence and is not excluded under Rule 403 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. Therefore, according to Rule 402 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, which provides that unless otherwise prohibited, relevant evidence is admissible, the witness who will testify that the defendant told her that she shouldn’t be surprised if six months down the road… “you hear that Shirley is dead because I am going to kill her” is relevant evidence in this case.

ANALYSIS ISSUE V

Is a witness who will testify that the defendant asked him how he could remove blood from concrete admissible evidence in this case? This evidence not only tends to make it more likely that the defendant murdered his wife, but it also helps prove this. Why would the defendant need to know how to remove blood from concrete? This evidence tends to make an important element of the case more likely, making it relevant evidence. The evidence also tends to prove an important fact of this case.

This evidence clearly satisfies the element of relevancy according to Rule 401 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. This evidence does not present a danger of confusing the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay, waste of time, unnecessary presentation of cumulative evidence, or unfair prejudice. The probative value of the evidence outweighs any prejudicial effects the evidence may have. Therefore, this evidence is not excluded under Rule 403 of the Federal Rules of Evidence.

CONCLUSION ISSUE V

This evidence satisfies the necessary requirement of relevancy according to Rule 401 of the Federal Rules of Evidence and is not excluded under Rule 403 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. Therefore, according to Rule 402 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, which provides that unless otherwise prohibited, relevant evidence is admissible, a witness who will testify that the defendant asked him how he could remove blood from concrete is admissible evidence in this case.

ANALYSIS ISSUE VI

Is a witness who will testify that the defendant told her that there might be bodies hidden in the mine shafts in Pennsylvania, and that if he wanted to get rid of his wife, nobody would ever see her again admissible evidence in this case? This evidence, especially along with the other evidence presented, tends to make it more likely that the defendant is guilty of murdering his wife and tends to prove that fact. According to Rule 401 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, which defines relevant evidence as having the tendency to make an important fact or issue of the case more or less likely than it would be without the evidence, this evidence is relevant in this case.

This evidence also helps to prove an important fact of the case, which is that the defendant murdered his wife, which makes the evidence probative. This evidence does not present a danger of confusing the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay, waste of time, unnecessary presentation of cumulative evidence, or unfair prejudice. The probative value of the evidence outweighs any prejudicial effects the evidence may have. Therefore, this evidence is not excluded under Rule 403 of the Federal Rules of Evidence.

CONCLUSION ISSUE VI

This evidence satisfies the necessary requirement of relevancy according to Rule 401 of the Federal Rules of Evidence and is not excluded under Rule 403 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. Therefore, according to Rule 402 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, which provides that unless otherwise prohibited, relevant evidence is admissible, a witness who will testify that the defendant told her that there might be bodies hidden in the mine shafts in Pennsylvania, and that if he wanted to get rid of his wife, nobody would ever see her again is admissible evidence in this case.

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