Professor T. Lynch
J.D. Course 165
| 3 credit hours
Evidence is the fascinating system of rules our legal culture has chosen to govern the resolution of factual disputes; it is also, of course, the information that is offered to decide such disputes.
Evidence rules answer such questions as what information has or should have a bearing on a factual decision? What would otherwise matter but we decide not to consider it because it is too confusing, misleading, or time-consuming, or because it will distract us from the issue at hand? Are there things we should decide in advance not to consider because we care about other, unrelated policies more than any particular decision? When, if ever, do we have a right not to provide information that would matter?
Evidence rules also set the framework for deciding issues about the source of information. Who should be allowed to offer information, and do we care how people know what they purport to know? Who is telling the truth, who is mistaken, who simply can’t remember, and what do we do to help us answer those questions? Should we ever take into account the reputation of the person offering the information? Should we pay more attention to someone with special knowledge, skills, or experience, and, if so, when and for what reasons? When, if ever, should we rely on information a person obtains only from someone else? Should information from a person be given the same importance as information in a document? Should some documents matter more than others?
This three-credit evidence course will seek to answer those questions by focusing on the Federal Rules of Evidence; and we will seek to understand the Rules by focusing on problems that arise during trials and litigation. This class packs a significant amount of material into a relatively short window of time: class preparation and participation will be essential for a successful student experience.
Recommended: Prior enrollment in Civil Procedure (or the equivalent Legal Process and Society) or Criminal Procedure.
In Summer 2012, this course will meet from May 29 through July 12. The exam will be held on July 23.
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