About the Course

Evidence law is about the limits we place on the information juries hear. This course examines these limits, their boundaries, their ambiguities, and how they work in practice. We will attempt to master the Federal Rules of Evidence. It is essential to know what the Rules say and how judges enforce them. It is just as important to know when the meaning of a rule is unclear and on what grounds courts decide close calls.

We will also address some policy issues, such as: Why have evidence rules anyway? Why should we put limits on the information juries hear?

This course centers on the Federal Rules of Evidence, which govern in the great majority of federal judicial proceedings. At last count, forty-two states and Puerto Rico have adopted the Federal Rules in whole or in great part.  Even those eight states that have adopted distinct evidence codes or have not codified their evidence law -- California, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, and Virginia -- adhere to similar evidence principles. Stunningly, New York has not codified its law of evidence at all.

You can see the specific topics later in this syllabus, but in summary we will cover: procedural and substantive rules of evidence, judicial notice, presumptions and burdens of proof, rules governing the receipt of oral and documentary evidence, impeachment, direct and cross-examination, competency, hearsay, privileges, and the best evidence rules.

Key Dates

March 8- 15 - Spring Break
March 25, 2015 - no class
April 22, 2015 - last class
May 6, 2015 - final examination

Prior Students:

Students who have taken Evidence from Professor Snyder in the past -- especially those studying for a bar examination -- may request credentials to access the materials on this site..