California Evidence Law Essay
October 5, 2012
Aspects of California Evidence Law and its impact on people in today’s Society
There are various aspects of the California Evidence Law which impacts many individuals involved in the court of law, as well as the wider society. It is common knowledge that life cannot divorce itself from conflicts whether civil and criminal which is handled in the courts of law. The California Evidence Law has various aspects that influence how both the prosecutors and the defendants may argue their cases in court, how they can present their evidence, the nature of proof that is acceptable and that which is not accepted by the courts, among other key issues that affect people involved in the court processes. This paper makes effort to address the issues linked to California Evidence Law, and the impacts they have on paper.
The law of evidence in California has elements that are borrowed from the Federal Law of Evidence and that are why there will be close reference of the two laws. The aspects of the California Evidence law as reflected in this paper are such important issues that not only the lawyers who practice law should be well acquainted with, but also for the common man to be well versed with so as to interrelate with the laws well in the event they have to be used in the court of law in many capacities. People are used in courts as witnesses; as well as well they may appear in court as defendants and thus the California evidence law compounds as an important law, both for the people and the law practitioners. This law has impacts the people much since they come into interaction with the court processes in various ways, and may not have the formal schooling on matters of law and on evidence laws in particular. Thus this paper is such an important in outlining some of the critical aspects of the laws.
Getting to the root of the aspects of the California evidence law is not an easy task since the laws are much detailed, and thus requires a critical study so that to bring out the crucial elements that are reflected by it. This is why this paper has taken an approach of presenting the aspects in this law by reviewing the California Evidence law, organizing what is represented in the law, and ensuring that it is presented in a logical manner. This is to ensure that the paper is not only succinct in addressing the various issues in the law, but well detailed in addressing the key aspects in the evidence law that often affects people as they interact with the law. As much as a number of the California evidence law is familiar with us, this paper makes an attempt to review, and organize the aspects represented in the law, so that it can be easily understood by the people, and thus give people the confidence to apply the laws well in the event that they come to interact with it. It is clear that a better understanding of the California evidence law will enable the persons involved to apply the laws in a more appropriate way, and thus have better outcomes with regard to justice by representing facts and evidences in court as per the schedules provided for by the law.
A number of aspects in the California evidence law are not much emphasized in this paper because they are obvious concepts in terms of their universality of application in many other evidence laws, and secondly, some are only applied in a very limited contextual framework. Obvious aspects in the California laws that may not need to be restated are such as the rue of evidence that demands that all the evidence that is constructed should be constructed in such a manned to achieve the ends of justice to both parties in court. In addition, we have rules of evidence that are limited in application such as those relating to how the plaintiff is cross examined in cases such as sexual assault, or a case involving the incompetence of a juror to impeach his own verdict on the case, or even in the case of cases involving property valuation. Thus, this paper will concentrate in outlining the aspects in the California Law courts which are used in every day law practice and those that are not trivial. It has mastered in outlining the aspects that have impacts on people, as well as those aspects that must be known in the preparation of cases. Therefore the paper is explicit in addressing the issues in California evidence laws that often brings challenges in the arguing out of cases. California Evidence Code is short and thus this paper will give an analytic framework into all these issues.
2.0 Aims and Objectives
The aim of this paper is
To outline different aspects of the California Evidence Law. Laws are developed to improve justice to both the defendants and the prosecutors; thus looking at the California Evidence Law would be a big step in understanding this law from the eyes of justice, and how justice can reach out to the people.
To look at the implications that the California Evidence Law has on people. This is because the laws of evidence touch the people directly than any other law. It is this law that determines the extent of justice to people, and thus they should be able to understand the aspects captured in the evidence law.
Aspects of California Evidence Law
California Evidence law captures all the aspects relating to the construction of evidence, presentation of evidence, and admissibility of the evidence in the court of law. These are critical issues in the legal framework in California. It may affect the success of a case presented in the court of law. California laws just like other laws were established to ensure that there is justice for both parties represented in court (the prosecution, and the defense council). Thus it is of great importance for the laws to be understood by the people. In addition, in the eyes of the law, justice is delivered to the people in court through proper interpretation and validation of the evidences presented from both parties. In this regard, California Evidence Laws is at the center of all the processes directed to bring justice on board. Notably, it is people who submit cases in court, and thus the California Evidence Law affects none other than the people. This paper brings out the aspects in this law, an how it impacts people in the best way possible. This is with regard to the simplicity of the paper, and the diversity by which the aspects are presented to make it an all round paper.
3.0 Rules on Admissibility of Evidence
The California Evidence Law has outlined the structures by which any given evidence may be admitted in court or rejected. Not all the evidence that is presented in court will be admissible. This is because for the evidence to be admitted in the eyes of the California Evidence Law, it must surpass several tests. In the event that the evidence provided has not satisfactorily satisfied the standard by which an evidence may be termed as ‘admissible’ then it stands to not to be admissible, and thus may not be used within the constraints of California laws.
According to the California Evidence code 351, evidence presented in the court may only be admissible if it fully meets three conditions. The three standards by which evidence would be found to be admissible are materiality, relevance and competence. This means that any evidence presented in the court of law and is proved to be material, relevant and competent then such evidence cannot be barred by any exclusionary rule, and this further implies that the evidence is admissible.
Evidence is found to be relevant in the California law when it has the tendency to create reason that makes the facts presented to prove or disapprove the evidence to be either more of less probable. This is per California Evidence Code 210. This means that the fact that if the evidence presented makes the fact presented to support or counter it more or less probable, makes it satisfactory as relevant. In addition, for the evidence provided to be relevant, then the presented evident is not obliged to make the fact offered certain, but should just demonist rate some tendency to increase of decrease the likelihood of the fact that is presented. The finder of the fact presented through the evidence has the liberty to weigh the evidence, though even if a piece of evidence stands to be weak, it would still be found admissible but for cases where it runs afoul of a given exclusionary rule of law or is deemed to be otherwise incompetent.
Evidence should satisfy the condition of being ‘material’. Evidence satisfies to be termed as ‘material’ if the evidence offered proves a fact that has been an issue of a given case. In this regard, a fact in a court case may have support of proof by evidence. This type of evidence is satisfies the condition of material; for it proves a fact presented in a case.
Competence in the California law happens in the case that the evidence has a proof which meets a given set of traditional requirements of reliability. From the conditions that have been set, any given evidence given is found by the California Evidence Law to meet the three requirements is found to be much admissible. Without regard to cases where any of the parties questions the competence of the evidence through objection,, it would be deemed that the objector is trying to show that there lacks competence of another preliquisite admissibility standard. However, in practice the modern trend in law has shown the tendency to turn the rules of competency by turning them in form of weighty considerations.
Generally speaking, in the event that competent evidence is offered to serve the purposes of proof to a given relevant material fact, then this evidence remains admissible under the California Evidence Law. This is regardless of whether the same evidence may be perceived to be improper to be used for an otherwise purpose. This is per schedule of evidence code 355. Notable, as much as the evidence of prior bad acts subjected to the accused may be found not to be admissible, with regard to serving the purposes regarding the intent in a federal court to impeach the credibility of a witness serving in that case. In addition, in the event that evidence code 1101(b) is applied regarding a situation where it has put it clearly that evidence provided is meant to serve for a limited purpose, and the one party thinks that jury may improperly apply the evidence, then the party may request to a for a limiting instruction to be accompanied to the instruction.
Regarding the conditions of admissibility; in the event that value of the evidence is questionable regarding faults in its purpose, as well as a high likelihood that it may serve an improper purpose, by the party seeking to find a fact, the court has the discretion not to admit the evidence. This is regardless of the fact that it has fulfilled the prior conditions of admissibility. In this case the evidence would be thrown out for the probable value of the evidence would be said to outweigh its prejudicial (improper harm) effect. In this case, it is not that necessary that an evidence that is extremely harmful to one party qualifies to be prejudicial. In simple terms, courts have the discretion to prevent confusion, waste of time, and delay of cumulative evidence.
4.0 Accrediting and Discrediting a Witness
In the California Evidence Law, a witness may fail the test of being accredited if he has not been impeached. The law provides that any party has the liberty to impeach any witness at any provided time. In addition, the credibility of a witness could be impeached at international level but for the point he has been impeached by a court inquiry in any of the following relevant areas. Among the about nine of the areas, the first four areas relates with the fulfillment of the requirements of competence.
The sincerity, as well as firmness of the belief of the witness regarding the external consequences of violation of oath.
The nature and quality of the perception of the said witness or the ability by which the witness may be able to perceive.
The ability by which the witness may remember all that is provided as evidence.
Finally, we have the accuracy of the perception of witness communication.
A much as the cross-examiner may not have any basis for believing the existence of any infirmity in the witness testimony; the cross examiner may inquire into the four areas.
5.0 Issues in Presenting Evidence
Today, there have been an augmented number of issues with regard to presentation of evidence that have frequently caused problems in the courtrooms. Several of these issues relates to the presentation of evidence that affects the credibility, as well as the outcomes of the cases. In the California courts, just like other courts; it is not just the ‘evidence’ but also the presentation of evidence that affects the outcomes of the cases, and thus give justice to the people who deserve it.
a. Issues regarding the form of Examination
There are issues that have influence on how a given direct communication can be permitted or be found to lead to admissible outcomes. In regard to the law, direct examination relates to the questioning process by which a lawyer calling the witness to testify on the matters that he is making efforts to inquire on. According to the California Evidence code 760, this may relate much with the use of leading questions. In this case, a question may be referred to as leading if it a question that substitutes the lawyers words for those of the eyewitness or in the case where the question suggests a specific direction or response. For instance, “You told the court that you were at your estate parking at 7 pm that day, didn’t you?”
The imperative thing to reminder with regard to the form of examination and the implied implication of a response according to California Evidence Law is that all the questions that demands for a “No” or “yes” response may not necessarily be termed as leading questions. This is why under the California Evidence Law, the court allows the person conducting the examination to engage in questions such as, “Did you inform the defendants that you wanted the detergent supplies?” The things that should be noted according to this law is that a response can be found to be leading in the event that it develops a pattern that reduces the witness opinion to a state where the witness adopts the lawyer’s description.
b. The Hearsay Rule
This is one of the regulations under the California Evidence Law that is often simply stated though confusing to apply. Perhaps this is because the law is riddled with exceptions. In addition, this is among the rules that many people are versed with yet confusing at times to abide by. Hearsay evidence refers to the kind of evidence of a statement that was fronted by any other person other than a witness. This statement often is said by the person while testifying and often is offered to add the weight of proof of the matter at hand in that case. In analyzing the possible hearsay, the first step may involve the determination that the statement said is indeed hearsay. In this regard, if that statement mentioned is hearsay, then it demands that an inquiry be conducted to determine whether the hearsay statement in any way may fall within the structures of the hearsay exceptions rule.
Notably, evidence may fall into this category for various reasons. First, because the given evidence is often an out of court statement intended to prove something besides the truthfulness of the hearsay it qualifies. Secondly, if the said statements prove to have a possible use as hearsay or rather for a non-hearsay purpose then it stands to be admitted in court. These two exceptions makes such kind of evidence to be admissible subject to a requested limiting instruction. In addition, it is also subject to the discretion of the courts judges depending on whether it satisfies or tests negative to the condition of “its prejudicial effect outweighing the probative value”. This makes statements such as the following not to be hearsay in court. They include; “Help”, “I accept the offer”, “In my opinion” and so on.
c. The Lay Opinion Rule
The law demands that witnesses should respond to cross examination as per what they heard, felt, saw, tasted or smelled. They are required not to express their objective opinion or subjectively draw conclusions on their own. This condition shows that often the distinction between fact and opinion may not be found to be clear as expected. To add to this, an increased number of witnesses have found it not an easy task to give their evidence in the form that is required by law. This is because a given number of perceptions may not be easy to communicate by the use of language that is divorced to a given opinion and judgment. This is why both the Federal and California Evidence Laws have to a significant measure relaxed this standard against lay opinions. This is in their bid to ensure good facilitation of evidence reception. This is evident by the provision for witnesses who are not legal experts. This is because the lay people are allowed to testify in form of opinion subject to the rationality of the perception of the individual giving proof, as well as if it’s helpful to his own understanding of his testimony. To note is the fact that opinions by a competent lay person in court are permitted by cases, rule or stature.
6.0 Kinds of Evidence Admissible in California Evidence Law
Just like many other laws of international and national scope, courts would determine the categorization of evidences depending on the rationale offered by law. In regard to the California laws, the traditional types of evidence have been maintained they include demonstrative, documentary, real, and testimonial evidences. Important to note is that a number o rules of evidence are applicable with regard to the four kinds of evidence, while some apply to selected cases.
This refers to evidence regarding something that is in existence, or a thing whose characteristics are material and relevant. Often it involves a thing that was significantly involved in a given event presented in the court case. In addition, a written contract, where sets of actions were based may be found to be real evidence by the virtue that the evidence has been presented to prove the terms that was executed by the defendant. If the written contract was drafted in an unsteadily and faltering manner, then it may be found as a relevant to show that the person committed to the contract was likely to be under duress at the time of closing the deal. Real evidence may include murder weapons, scene of accident, crumpled automobile.
The imperative thing to reminder is that for real evidence to be admitted, it must test positive to the teats of relevance, competence, and material. Often to do this requires laying the foundation. This is involves the establishment that the three basic preliquisites apply in that case. It is clear that materiality and relevance condition of real evidence are often obvious; however, the competence of the evidence must be proved by exposing out that the evidence is really what it was meant to be. This is through the process of authentication where the evidence is assessed to find that it is what it purports to be.
It must also be renowned that the verification of real evidence may be conducted in three ways. They include the identification of an object made unique, identification of a unique object, as well as by setting up a chain of custody in the case. These are the only ways by which the an alternate ways by which any real evidence may be authenticated in the event a court has failed to get satisfied by the method that has been employed.
In addition to the said, it has been found that the least troublesome method of authenticating real evidence is through the provision of a testimony given by a witness with the ability to identify the unique object that has been presented in court. Eve as efforts are made to identify the unique object in the case, it is however of great importance to note that an increasing number of mundane objects agree to this form of identification. In this sense, a unique contract developed by two or more parties, may be authenticated by a person with that given document. The second method which regards identification of an object made unique in court has also been found to be useful. This is because it gives lawyers or clients an opportunity to avoid the temptation of proving a chain of custody.
To sum this up, to bring justice closer to both parties in court, the law has provided room for the proponents of the evidence in court to establish the object subject to not being changed between the trials and events. This means that from the day of event in question through the days cannot be accounted for, then the evidence qualifies to be excluded.
As the name does suggest, this is the sort of evidence that would demonstrates the testimony given by a specific witness. This kind of evidence is only found to be admissible under California Evidence Law when its not unobjectable, has sufficient accuracy for the tasks that are not yet done. A typical example of this kind of evidence may include the maps and animations that may demonstrate the scene of the occurrence. The purpose of demonstrative evidence is to get a clear illustration of the testimony being given. Authentication of this kind of evidence is done by the witness whose testimony has been captured in the illustration. This is because a witness is often given the opportunity to identify the salient features of the provided exhibit in court, and establish that it fairly reflects what was seen or heard in the said event.
History has revealed that for quite some time, California courts have held the use of photographs as only demonstrative evidence to be controversial. This is because it would be difficult to establish a witness who would say that the camera saw. However, many courts in California conclusively reached to a sensible solution and that is a photograph may qualify to be used either as a demonstrative or real evidence. This is depended on the form of authentication that was employed. For instance, a photograph may be found in court to be demonstrative by the virtue that it was authenticated by a witness who saw what exactly happened in the event.
This kind of evidence is a kind of real evidence as it may include the cases such as evidence such a defendant offers a copy of a contract to verify the stipulations of the said agreement. In this event the contract may be found to be documentary evidence according to California Evidence Law. This is because the contract was issued in document form and thus is authenticated just as other real evidence. This is through the witness who has identified the evidence or a witness who is successful in establishing a chain of custody for the information captured in the evidence. However, because many contracts often involves human language, as well as the development of common law; this kind of evidence often is accompanied by problems especially regarding cases where they contain hearsay. In addition, we have the patrol evidence rule of the California law that bars the admission of extrinsic evidence, which has the tendency to change the terms of a written agreement presented in court.
As noted before, the documents presented in court as evidence may be authenticated in a similar way as the case is in other real evidence provided. In addition to this, the law requires that any material alterations must be accounted for with regard to the objective of the alterations and the consequent impact of that alteration. It is noted that within the structures of California Evidence Law, there are specific methods that have been approved for authenticating the document that have been listed in court. This includes the submission with regard to the finder of fact in the court case proceedings. Authentication of some documents may include the authentication of signatures on the document provided for the purposes of being used as evidence. There are many documents that may be used in court as documentary evidence. They include the inscriptions, newspapers, periodicals, public records, as well as other acknowledged documents.
It is further held by the best evidence rule that in the event that evidence is offered in form of writing; the secondary evidence provided to stand in place of the original document t may not be admissible but for an adequate explanation being offered accounting the absence of the original document. In the California Evidence law, testimony and other forms of secondary evidence that stands in place of the original content is on a general scale forbidden.
It has been generally accepted by both the California and the Federal laws that the use of ‘photocopy’ material may be subjected to error or fraud. In addition, the law encourages the use of mechanically produced duplicates but for a party which has raised a core issue, such as questioning the accuracy of the copy.
This is the most basic kind of evidence that exist s and the one that doesn’t necessarily require another form of evidence as a condition for it to be admitted in law courts. This is the evidence that is made up of what is said during court proceedings by a competent witness. A witness is found to be competent by the law if he satisfies four demands. The first one is that he must take an oath or its substitute with understanding. The second condition involves personal knowledge on the subject of the said testimony. This may be said in another language to mean he must have perceived a thing with a rational sense which should be relevant to the said case. The third requirement that makes a witness competent is being able to remember what he perceived. The last and final condition for the competency of the witness relates to his communication ability. He should have the ability to communicate with what he is expected to have perceived.
However, there exist other rules of competence that are linked directly to exceptional cases or circumstances. For instance the rule that a jury is incompetent to go ahead and impeach his own verdict, this is alongside the rule that an acting jury doesn’t satisfy the competency tests regarding testifying in trial where he is at the same time testifying.
It is also imperative to reminder that the California Evidence law has provided that in the event that the witness has forgotten what he is to testify about; there are four ways by which this memory can be supplemented. The first option is to seek a recess where the witness will have a break and thus calm the nerves. The other option involves asking the witness a leading question that would refresh his recollection of memory. At this point, it is clear that this is one of the exceptions on the earlier discussed rule against the use of leading questions while undertaking direct examination. The third and final option for a witness who has failed to gather memory that would support him to testify is referred to as “past recollection refreshed”. It involves refreshing the memory of the witness by requesting the witness to acknowledge that he can’t remember the fact that they are trying to inquire on. After this, he is asked anything that may help him recollect the memory; it may be a movie, events video tape, perfume smell and so on.
It should be noted that the California law demands that if the evidence used to refresh the memory of a witness is written, a copy of it should be provided to the opposing counsel. In California, failure to meet this demand will result in the testimony not being admitted. It must also be renowned that the reminiscence of refreshing doesn’t qualify in any way to act as evidence by any party. It is the response of the witness after his memory has been brought back that is treated as evidence.
All in all, California Evidence Law has various aspects that affect people in different ways. This is in their capacities as witnesses, lawyers, as well those who serve in other capacities at the court room. The California Evidence law has enclosed many of these issues said that affects the behaviors of the witnesses, lawyers and the power that a jury has been given to handle exceptional situations during the examination, as well as at other stages of court proceedings. The paper has brought out the core issues regarding California Evidence Law that affects the way witnesses, as well as the lawyers conduct their business during court proceedings.
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