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Georgia’s New Evidence Code: How & Why We Changed

Posted in News

 

Georgia is getting a much-needed change to its evidence code, and Colin Miller’s Law Prof Blog has the post I’ve been wanting to read about it. 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. 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.
Here are some reasons why this development is good.
Regularity
Less Vagueness (bent of mind, course of conduct, res gestae)
A modern evidence code that fits the kinds of evidence lawyers seek to admit
A playing field that, for a brief time, will reward the prepared (and that’s generally the defense)
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

 

Square Peg Round Hole.jpgGeorgia 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.

  • Michael Mears

    Wendell Willard does deserve huge credit for the finalization of this long term project. The Rules of Evidence as adopted by Georgia’s General Assembly will help bring Georgia into line with, not only the federal court system, but with the majority of other state jurisdictions as well. If anyone is interested a brief history of the Federal Rules of Evidence, they should contact me for a copy of an article giving a historical perspective from the 1970′s as to how the federal rules came into being.

  • http://jscottkey.com/ Scott Key

    First, thanks for commenting. My apologies for publishing your comment after so long. And I would love a copy of the article. Thanks for all you do!