Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Massachusetts Guide to Evidence...

...(Just don't call them rules!). Unlike most states, Massachusetts still has no Rules of Evidence, but the Court is getting closer to one cohesive statement of Massachusetts evidence guidelines with the newly released Preliminary Draft of the Massachusetts Guide to Evidence. While the organization of the guide is based on that of the Federal Rules of Evidence, and it often uses the language of the Proposed Massachusetts Rules of Evidence or Federal Rules of Evidence, the Committee makes it clear that this is not a rules book. "Ultimately, of course, the law of evidence in Massachusetts is what is contained in the authoritative decisions of the Supreme Judicial Court and of the Appeals Court, and the statutes duly enacted by the Legislature."

Still, the guide will clearly be a single reliable source of the law of evidence. According to Mass. Lawyers' Weekly, "While the guide will not have the same authority as formal rules of evidence, [Superior Court Judge Peter] Agnes and several others familiar with the preliminary draft said lawyers will be able to cite directly to its sections and use it as an authoritative source before the court. "