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Mock Trial Rules of Evidence
Transcript of Mock Trial Rules of Evidence
Chris Bhang, Street Law Spring 2013
Rule 1: Leading questions may not be asked when questioning one's own witness in direct examination. Leading questions may be used on cross examination.
- Suggests the answer desired by the questioner
- Usually states some facts not previously discussed
- Often requires witness to give a "yes" or "no" answer.
It's like listening to a good story, wondering "what's going to happen next?"
Question are open-ended, the attorney lets the witness fill in the details.
"Mr. Rutlege, how did you know Tom?"
"Where did you go after you left the party?"
"Why didn't you call the police?"
It's like taking a dog for a potty break - you lead the dog to you want it go. If you have a good dog.
Questions are statements, combined with a word or phrase that technically make it a question.
"Isn't it true that you didn't have anything to drink the night Tom died?"
"Morrison had a grudge against Tom, right?"
"Morrison was also at the park, correct?"
"Where did you go after the party?"
"Why did Morrison have a grudge against Tom?
Rule 3: Attorneys cannot ask questions that get witnesses to guess at answers
Rule 2: Attorneys cannot badger or argue with the witness. Questions may NOT be argumentative in tone or manner.
"Badgering" is harassing or asking again and again.
While attorneys are questioning the other side's witnesses, they can be forceful or pressing, but be aware that there is point at which one can go too far...
: May cover
facts relevant to the case of which the witness has either
first hand knowledge
or knows through a
ay relate to matters brought out by the other side on
or to matters relating to the
of the witness.
Rule 4: The witness' answer must respond to the question. A long story is objectionable
"Narration" occurs when the witness provides much more information than the question calls for. . .
Question - "Dr. Kildare" where do you work?
Answer: "I am an emergency room physician
at General Hospital. I was working the night shift on the night of October 31, 2012 and at about 12:30 a.m., Tom Calhoun was brought in by a friend.
Rule 5: Questions or answers that add nothing to the understanding of the issue in dispute are objectionable
Rule 6: With certain exceptions, statements that are made outside of the courtroom are not allowed as evidence if they are offered to show that the statements are true.
I am an emergency room physician at General Hospital.
Dr. Kildare . . .
I work at General Hospital.
Attorney: Dr. Kildare, where do you work?
Impermissible Narration #1?
I am an emergency room physician at General Hospital. I was working the night shift on the night of October 31st, 2012, and about 12:30 am, Tom Calhoun was brought in by a friend.
I was at the Sand Trap for a bit. There was a party going on. But around 11:30, we went to Jumbo. Climbing the rollercoaster was a part of the initiation process for the Blowfish Society.
I went to a party at the Sand Trap for a while – a lot of kids from school were there – and then I went to Jumbo to climb the roller coaster.
Robin Rutledge . . .
I was at a party at the Sand Trap and then I went to Jumbo Amusements.
Attorney: Robin, where were you on Halloween 2012?
Impermissible Narration #2?
Fritzie was a prankster as a kid. I met Fritzie when I was working at the park. S/he would hang around there, trying to get other kids to climb the rollercoaster.
Fritzie used to come by the park all the time where I was working. He would get kids to come to the park and persuade them to climb the rollercoaster as a stupid prank.
Leslie Cooper . . .
I’ve known Fritzie since s/he was a kid. I worked for Fritzie’s dad at Jumbo and then for Fritzie when s/he took over.
Attorney: Leslie, how do you meet Fritzie Thurmond?
Impermissible Narration #3?
There are many exceptions that apply to the hearsay rule, but only two apply in this trial:
1) That a witness may repeat a statement made by either party either party in the case that contains evidence that goes AGAINST his or her side, PROVIDED that the witness actually heard the statement.
2) If a person's state of mind at the time of a certain event is important, any statements made about that event at the time the event occurred concerning speakers intent, knowledge or belief, will be admissible.
Jo/e Jackson may testify regarding Thurmond's statements about the alleged previous incident at the park, and that Thurmond could not afford to settle with anyone else who claimed to have been injured at the park.
"Objection, Your Honor, this is hearsay.
"Your Honor, since Fritzie Thurmond is a party, the witness may testify to a statement Jo/e heard Thurmond make.
Rule 7: Witnesses must only testify about things that they have directly seen, heard or experienced.
Dr. Kildare testifies that Tom Calhoun fell from the roller coaster.
"Your Honor, the witness has no first hand knowledge of what happened prior to Calhoun's arrival at the hospital.
Rule 8: Unless a witness is qualified as an expert in the area under question, the witness may not give an opinion about matters relating to that area.
HOWEVER . . .
. . . if the evidence is about something in common experience, an ordinary witness may give an opinion once the witness has established that he or she had an opportunity to form an opinion about the subject.
1. Dr. Kildare testifies: “In my opinion, Tom fell from a height of 20-40 feet.”
- Is this statement a fact or opinion?
- Is the determining the height of fall something that anyone would know from common experience? Or is this an expert matter?
- Is Dr. Kildare an expert in falls? How do you know?
- Will this statement be allowed?
Dr. Kildare testifies:
“Tom’s blood alcohol level was 0.09.”
Dr. Kildare testifies:
“Tom probably was not drunk Halloween night.”
Will these statements be allowed? Why or why not?
Rule 9: No witness may give an opinion about how the case should be decided.
Beyond the Scope of Cross Examination
Rule 10: In cases where the lawyer has time to re-examine a witness after cross-examination, the lawyer on re-examination may only ask questions RELATING to topics that the opposing lawyer asked about during cross-examination.
Beyond the Scope of the Packet
Mock Trial Rules of Evidence
Rule 11: Questions that ask about, or answers that supply,
not contained in the packet
are objectionable. However,
regarding a character's role may be asked and added.
Example: "Robyn, where do you live?
Objection: "Objection, Your Honor, this is beyond the scope of the packet.