Georgia is getting a much-needed change to its evidence code, and Colin Miller’s Evidence Prof Blog has the post I’ve been wanting to read. Professor Miller does two things really well in his post. First, he points out that Georgia is finally catching up with the rest of the nation as we become the 43rd State to enact an evidence code modeled after the Federal Rules of evidence. Secondly, he discusses why Georgia’s evidence rules were long overdue for an overhaul.
Why were we due for an overhaul? The current rules of evidence were enacted in 1863. Changes in the way we do court as well as little technological developments like the invention of the automobile, airplane, and the internet, have taken us int a different world than the world inhabited by the framers of the evidence code. Too often we were trying to match up the proverbial square peg and round hole. He cite to another of his posts, which demonstrates how antiquated the Federal Rules of Evidence are by reference to how to admit a computer printout under the Best Evidence Rule.
Why did it take so long? The move to change the rules began in 1986, and the legislation died “a thousand deaths in different committees” and faced “strong opposition from solicitors and prosecutors.” How did it get done this time? Professor Miller credits Representative Wendell Willard who pushed for adoption of the Federal Rules of Evidence in 2009. As the process began, he acknowledged the concerns of prosecutors. He convened a study committee, which discussed those concerns at length, highlighting the differences between the Georgia Rules of Evidence and the Federal Rules of Evidence. Eventually, the bill passed by an overwhelming margin, and we have a new evidence code on the way.
As Professor Miller noted, Georgia has now gotten its evidence code up to speed and has largely adopted (98% of it) the Federal Rules of Evidence. I’m going to keep following the Law Prof Blog as this provision moves forward.