Best Evidence Rule in Court Proceedings

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The Federal Rules of Evidence contain three other rules that are not necessarily exceptions to the rule, but that clarify the inapplicability of the rule to certain classes of evidence. The so-called „best evidence“ rule is an old rule that provides that if a party attempts to prove the contents of a document, the document must be presented as evidence, unless there is a good reason not to enter the document as evidence. The idea is that Article 2 of the Treaty is the `best proof` of what Article 2 of the Treaty actually says. Whether a proponent has met the requirement to „admit other evidence for the content of a document“ is determined by the court. However, in a jury trial, the jury decides on the following questions: „(i) An alleged writing, recording or photograph has already existed; (ii) any other writing, photograph or photograph taken at trial is the original; or (iii) other substantive evidence accurately reflects the content. See Federal Rules of Evidence, Rule 1008. There are exceptions to the best evidence rule. Original, recording or photographic evidence is not required if: Once a party proves that one of these four exceptions is applicable, the content of the written, recorded or photographic evidence may be proved by secondary evidence. In U.S. federal courts, the best evidence rule is part of Section X of the Federal Rules of Evidence (Rules 1001-1008). [7] The rule sets out guidelines under which one of the parties to a court proceeding may request that they be allowed to present a copy of the contents of a document, recording or photograph as evidence at trial if the „original document is not available.“ [7] [8] If the party is able to provide an acceptable reason for the absence of the original, „secondary evidence“ or copies of the contents of the original document may be admitted as evidence. The best evidence rule is applied only in situations where a party attempts to substantiate a non-original document presented as evidence during a trial.

[8] The admissibility of documents before state judicial systems may vary. However, if a party tries to prove the payment, does not remember the experience of the payment, but has a receipt and wants to testify to what the receipt shows, the best proof rule applies because the contents of the receipt are offered. The „best proof“ of what the receipt shows is the receipt itself and the original receipt (or a photocopy) must be entered as proof. The following example applies the first exception. A woman in divorce proceedings wants to prove the contents of a draft letter she read on a laptop written by the other spouse. Although she wants to prove this content, the laptop was destroyed when the house was damaged by a flood. Since the spouse who offered the letter was not to blame for the destruction of the laptop and the original letter could not be obtained because it existed only on the laptop, the best evidence rule does NOT prevent the spouse from presenting other evidence such as his or her testimony to prove what the letter said. The best evidence rule applies only if the party presenting evidence attempts to prove the content of the written, recorded or photographic evidence, but does not apply if a party is only attempting to prove an event; see Federal Rules of Evidence, Rule 1004. For example, a witness may testify that he made the payment without giving a receipt for the payment as proof.

In such a case, the witness does not try to prove what is written on the receipt, but simply says that he made a payment. While payment can also be proven by the receipt as proof, the best proof rule does not require the receipt to be seized. The rule of best evidence has its origin in the case of omychund v Barker (1780) 1 Atk, 21, 49 in the 18th century; 26 ER 15.33. In which Lord Harwicke stated that no evidence is admissible unless it is „the best the nature of the case permits“. [2] [4] Let`s say Patty wants to testify that Fred sent her a picture of Fred breaking a car window. If a lawyer asks Patty to testify about what was in the photo, the requirement of the original rule should apply. We must enter the photo as proof. On the other hand, if a party attempts to file a reproduction of electronically stored information using unreliable methods, the courts will likely exclude the evidence under the best evidence rule. For example, a court received a copy and paste of chat room conversations from an instant messaging box and inserted into a Microsoft Word document. [12] The party testified that after each instant message conversation on a computer, he would highlight the entire conversation and copy it into the Word document.

There was no original, print, or other recording of the chat room conversations. This presentation focuses on what the best evidence rule applies to and how a party adheres to it. In addition, we will discuss exceptions to the rule as well as some non-applicability of the rule to certain evidentiary situations. Finally, we will examine a case study on electronically stored information and its relationship to the best evidence rule. (1) All originals are lost or destroyed and not by the party offering the evidence acting in bad faith; This underlying principle of the law of proof is called the best evidence rule, also known as the original writing rule. The basis of the best evidence rule is that the original letter, recording or photo is the „best“ way to prove the actual content of the evidence. Indeed, the best evidence requirement ensures that litigants present the evidence that best facilitates a court`s task of accurately resolving contentious factual issues. [2] Any other proof of writing, taking or photographing is only admissible if the original document is not available. In addition to originals and printouts of electronically stored information, duplicates of written, recorded or photographic evidence are also admissible in court. Parties often submit photocopies or scanned copies of documents during a legal dispute without encountering problems with the rule. This is permitted unless a genuine question is raised about the authenticity of the original, or circumstances make it unfair to allow duplicates, and the duplicate is challenged by a counterparty. [5] The court found that the printed emails of the text messages were acceptable to satisfy the best evidence rule.

Text messages were transferred directly from the phone and emails were the only available record of messages. The defendant also vouched for the authenticity of the messages. [11] Each of these factors suggested that emails were the best possible evidence of text messages. In other words, the authors of this law say, „Why should we ask Witness A to testify about what can be seen on the video when we can only watch the video?“ Therefore, as a rule, the original, shooting or photo is necessary to actually talk about the content. It is a tool often used by lawyers specializing in car accidents. Exceptions to the general concept of the best evidence rule: In some cases, however, the original is not required. Florida Act 90.953 states that other evidence (i.e., evidence other than the original) is permitted if: (1) all originals are lost or destroyed, unless the Proponent lost or destroyed them in bad faith; (2) An original may not be obtained in that State by judicial or procedural means; 3. an original at a time when that party has been informed by the pleadings or by written notification of the opposing party that the content of that original would be proved at the hearing, under the control of the party to whom it was offered, and that the original is not presented in the oral proceedings; (4) The letter, recording or photo is in no way related to a dominant fact.