Categories: Criminal Law Civil Litigation and Dispute Resolution

Instructor(s) Meyer, Stephen

The rules of evidence define how facts are proven in civil and criminal litigation. Focusing on the Federal Rules of Evidence, this course will give students a broad survey of the rules combined with in-depth analysis of how they apply in specific circumstances and how the entire litigation process -- from the filing of a complaint to final judgment after trial and appeal -- is shaped by evidentiary principles. Analysis of appellate case law will play, at most, a very limited role in the course. Although denoted a "lecture" course to signal that class enrollment is not limited, the teaching format will not be based primarily on lectures. Instead, class discussions will be centered around hands-on solving of specific problems, with emphasis on formulating questions, making and ruling on objections, and planning how to get facts before a jury. Simulation and role-playing will be used from time to time.


You are also required to attend and observe one jury trial during the course of the semester and write a brief summary of your observations. This paper or email will not be graded but you will need to identify in which court the trial took place, the lawyers and judge involved, the date and title of the case, the nature of the action being tried and any evidentiary issues that strike you.

You are to spend one full day or two half days. This requirement is born of two concerns: first, no law school student should ever graduate without having seen a jury trial; and, second, that some understanding of the rules of evidence will affect your perception of the process. Therefore, the fact that you have previously seen a jury trial will not excuse you from this requirement.

Your viewing may be in any U.S. Court. Juries in Dane County Circuit Court and in Federal Court for the Western District of Wisconsin are usually selected on Monday mornings; and the trials proceed thereafter. Thus, Tuesday is usually a particular convenient day for fulfilling this assignment. WARNING: there are weeks when neither of these two courts have any jury trials occurring. Therefore, putting off this assignment can have disastrous consequences as outlined below. Sometimes students put this off until the last minute and ask for consideration or exceptions to the above requirement. It must be a jury trial. Divorces, small claims and court trials do not count.

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