Welcome to Lawshelf’s video-course on Evidence. This course looks at the tapestry of rules that govern what information can be presented during criminal and civil proceedings. The course focuses primarily on the Federal Rules of Evidence. While state rules of evidence may vary, these represent a good indication of how the rules of evidence are generally likely to operate throughout the country.
This is an introductory-level course and the concepts are discussed in a manner that should be accessible even to those with no legal or litigation background.
Module 1 introduces the concept of evidence and discusses when and how evidentiary issues are decided. It looks at objections, stipulations, judicial notice, appeals and standards of review that comprise the backdrop of the way in which evidentiary rules are applied.
Module 2 deals with the fundamental principle of relevance. It discusses what evidence is relevant and when otherwise relevant evidence can be excluded due to danger of prejudice or other reasons. The module introduces the character evidence rule, which excludes evidence of character except in cases of clearly defined exceptions.
Module 3 continues the character evidence discussion with the many exceptions, conditions and rules related to character evidence discussed in Article 4 of the Federal Rules of Evidence.
Module 4 focuses on other rules of evidence, including authentication and the original documents rule. In other words, how does one know that evidence is what it purports to be? We’ll also look at privilege rules, which may exclude otherwise relevant evidence because of privileges, such as attorney-client, spousal and clergy-penitent.
Module 5 turns to the presentation of witness testimony. We’ll learn about the differences between “lay” witnesses and expert witnesses and discuss the types of questions that are allowed on direct and cross examination. We’ll also look at appropriate methods to impeach a witness’ testimony or credibility.
The last module looks at hearsay, the rule that precludes second-hand testimony. The rule has many exceptions and some of these are complex, so we’ll break these down as much as possible.
After completing this course, you should have a grasp on the way in which evidence is introduced, the reasons for many of the evidentiary limitations and on how the evidentiary rules are applied. This should also allow you to be more effective in helping to investigate and prepare for litigation, since you will better understand what information can make it to the jury.
Best of luck and we welcome your feedback.