2020-2021 Updates to the Federal Rules of Evidence

SUPREME COURT

OF THE UNITED STATES

Proposed amendments to the Federal Rules of Evidence, Rule 404, absent contrary Congressional action

Effective December 1, 2020

Honorable Nancy Pelosi

Speaker of the House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515

Dear Madam Speaker:

I have the honor to submit to the Congress an amendment to the Federal Rules of Evidence that has been adopted by the Supreme Court of the United States pursuant to Section 2072 of Title 28, United States Code.

Accompanying the amended rule are the following materials that were submitted to the Court for its consideration pursuant to Section 331 of Title 28, United States Code: a transmittal letter to the Court dated October 23, 2019; a redline version of the rule with committee note; an excerpt from the September 2019 report of the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure to the Judicial Conference of the United States; and an excerpt from the May 2019 report of the Advisory Committee on Evidence Rules.

Sincerely,/s/ John G. Roberts, Jr.

Honorable Michael R. Pence

President, United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Mr. President:

I have the honor to submit to the Congress an amendment to the Federal Rules of Evidence that has been adopted by the Supreme Court of the United States pursuant to Section 2072 of Title 28, United States Code.

Accompanying the amended rule are the following materials that were submitted to the Court for its consideration pursuant to Section 331 of Title 28, United States Code: a transmittal letter to the Court dated October 23, 2019; a redline version of the rule with committee note; an excerpt from the September 2019 report of the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure to the Judicial Conference of the United States; and an excerpt from the May 2019 report of the Advisory Committee on Evidence Rules.

Sincerely,/s/ John G. Roberts, Jr.

ORDER OF APRIL 27, 2020

1. The Federal Rules of Evidence are amended to include an amendment to Rule 404.

[See infra pp. ___ ___ ___.]

2. The foregoing amendment to the Federal Rules of Evidence shall take effect on December 1, 2020, and shall govern in all proceedings thereafter commenced and, insofar as just and practicable, all proceedings then pending.

3. THE CHIEF JUSTICE is authorized to transmit to the Congress the foregoing amendment to the Federal Rules of Evidence in accordance with the provisions of Section 2074 of Title 28, United States Code.

PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO THE FEDERAL RULES OF EVIDENCE

Rule 404. Character Evidence; Other Crimes, Wrongs, or Acts

* * * * *

(b) Other Crimes, Wrongs, or Acts.

(1) Prohibited Uses. Evidence of any other crime, wrong, or act is not admissible to prove a person’s character in order to show that on a particular occasion the person acted in accordance with the character.

(2) Permitted Uses. This evidence may be admissible for another purpose, such as proving motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, absence of mistake, or lack of accident.

(3) Notice in a Criminal Case In a criminal case, the prosecutor must:

(A) provide reasonable notice of any such evidence that the prosecutor intends to offer at trial, so that the defendant has a fair opportunity to meet it;

(B) articulate in the notice the permitted purpose for which the prosecutor intends to offer the evidence and the reasoning that supports the purpose; and

(C) do so in writing before trial—or in any form during trial if the court, for good cause, excuses lack of pretrial notice.

COMMITTEE ON RULES OF PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE OF THE JUDICIAL CONFERENCE OF THE UNITED STATES

WASHINGTON, DC 20544

DAVID G. CAMPBELL CHAIRS OF ADVISORY COMMITTEES
CHAIR
MICHAEL A. CHAGARES
REBECCA A. WOMELDORF APPELLATE RULES
SECRETARY
DENNIS R. DOW
BANKRUPTCY RULES
JOHN D. BATES
CIVIL RULES
RAYMOND M. KETHLEDGE
CRIMINAL RULES
DEBRA A. LIVINGSTON
EVIDENCE RULES

October 23, 2019

MEMORANDUM

TO: Scott S. Harris
Clerk, Supreme Court of the United States
FROM: Honorable David G. Campbell
RE: Summary of Proposed Amendments to the Federal Rules

This memorandum summarizes proposed amendments to the Rules of Appellate, Bankruptcy, and Civil Procedure, and the Rules of Evidence, submitted for the Supreme Court’s review. Each proposed amendment was unanimously approved by the relevant advisory committee as well as the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure. The Judicial Conference of the United States approved these amendments on September 17, 2019. If adopted by the Court and transmitted to Congress by May 1, 2020, these amendments will take effect on December 1, 2020 absent congressional action.

I. Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure 35 and 40

The proposed amendments to Rules 35 (En Banc Determination) and 40 (Petition for Panel Rehearing) establish length limits for responses to petitions for rehearing. The existing rules limit the length of petitions for rehearing, but do not restrict the length of responses to those petitions. The proposed amendments also change the term “answer” in Rule 40(a)(3) to “response,” paralleling the terms used in Rule 35.

PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE FEDERAL RULES OF EVIDENCE

<< FRE Rule 404 >>

Rule 404. Character Evidence; Other Crimes, Wrongs or Acts

* * * * *

(b) Other Crimes, Wrongs, or Acts.

(1) Prohibited Uses. Evidence of any other crime, wrong, or act is not admissible to prove a person’s character in order to show that on a particular occasion the person acted in accordance with the character.

(2) Permitted Uses. This evidence may be admissible for another purpose, such as proving motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, absence of mistake, or lack of accident.

(3) Notice in a Criminal Case. In a criminal case, the prosecutor must:

(A) provide reasonable notice of any such evidence that the prosecutor intends to offer at trial, so that the defendant has a fair opportunity to meet it;

(B) articulate in the notice the permitted purpose for which the prosecutor intends to offer the evidence and the reasoning that supports the purpose; and

(C) do so in writing before trial—or in any form during trial if the court, for good cause, excuses lack of pretrial notice.

Committee Note

Rule 404(b) has been amended principally to impose additional notice requirements on the prosecution in a criminal case. In addition, clarifications have been made to the text and headings.

The notice provision has been changed in a number of respects:

• The prosecution must not only identify the evidence that it intends to offer pursuant to the rule but also articulate a non-propensity purpose for which the evidence is offered and the basis for concluding that the evidence is relevant in light of this purpose. The earlier requirement that the prosecution provide notice of only the “general nature” of the evidence was understood by some courts to permit the government to satisfy the notice obligation without describing the specific act that the evidence would tend to prove, and without explaining the relevance of the evidence for a non-propensity purpose. This amendment makes clear what notice is required.

• The pretrial notice must be in writing—which requirement is satisfied by notice in electronic form. See Rule 101(b)(6). Requiring the notice to be in writing provides certainty and reduces arguments about whether notice was actually provided.

• Notice must be provided before trial in such time as to allow the defendant a fair opportunity to meet the evidence, unless the court excuses that requirement upon a showing of good cause. See Rules 609(b), 807, and 902(11). Advance notice of Rule 404(b) evidence is important so that the parties and the court have adequate opportunity to assess the evidence, the purpose for which it is offered, and whether the requirements of Rule 403 have been satisfied—even in cases in which a final determination as to the admissibility of the evidence must await trial. When notice is provided during trial after a finding of good cause, the court may need to consider protective measures to assure that the opponent is not prejudiced. See, e.g., United States v. Lopez–Gutierrez, 83 F.3d 1235 (10th Cir. 1996) (notice given at trial due to good cause; the trial court properly made the witness available to the defendant before the bad act evidence was introduced); United States v. Perez–Tosta, 36 F.3d 1552 (11th Cir. 1994) (defendant was granted five days to prepare after notice was given, upon good cause, just before voir dire).

• The good cause exception applies not only to the timing of the notice as a whole but also to the timing of the obligations to articulate a non-propensity purpose and the reasoning supporting that purpose. A good cause exception for the timing of the articulation requirements is necessary because in some cases an additional permissible purpose for the evidence may not become clear until just before, or even during, trial.

• Finally, the amendment eliminates the requirement that the defendant must make a request before notice is provided. That requirement is not found in any other notice provision in the Federal Rules of Evidence. It has resulted mostly in boilerplate demands on the one hand, and a trap for the unwary on the other. Moreover, many local rules require the government to provide notice of Rule 404(b) material without regard to whether it has been requested. And in many cases, notice is provided when the government moves in limine for an advance ruling on the admissibility of Rule 404(b) evidence. The request requirement has thus outlived any usefulness it may once have had.

As to the textual clarifications, the word “other” is restored to the location it held before restyling in 2011, to confirm that Rule 404(b) applies to crimes, wrongs and acts “other” than those at issue in the case; and the headings are changed accordingly. No substantive change is intended.

PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE FEDERAL RULES OF EVIDENCE2

Rule 404. Character Evidence; Other Crimes, Wrongs or Other Acts

* * * * *

(b) Other Crimes, Wrongs, or Other Acts.

(1) Prohibited Uses. Evidence of a any other crime, wrong, or other act is not admissible to prove a person’s character in order to show that on a particular occasion the person acted in accordance with the character.

(2) Permitted Uses; Notice in a Criminal Case. This evidence may be admissible for another purpose, such as proving motive, opportunity, intent, preparation, plan, knowledge, identity, absence of mistake, or lack of accident. On request by a defendant in a criminal case, the prosecutor must:

(3) Notice in a Criminal Case. In a criminal case, the prosecutor must:

(A) provide reasonable notice of the general nature of any such evidence that the prosecutor intends to offer at trial, so that the defendant has a fair opportunity to meet it; and

(B) articulate in the notice the permitted purpose for which the prosecutor intends to offer the evidence and the reasoning that supports the purpose; and

(C) do so in writing before trial—or in any form during trial if the court, for good cause, excuses lack of pretrial notice.

Committee Note

Rule 404(b) has been amended principally to impose additional notice requirements on the prosecution in a criminal case. In addition, clarifications have been made to the text and headings.

The notice provision has been changed in a number of respects:

• The prosecution must not only identify the evidence that it intends to offer pursuant to the rule but also articulate a non-propensity purpose for which the evidence is offered and the basis for concluding that the evidence is relevant in light of this purpose. The earlier requirement that the prosecution provide notice of only the “general nature” of the evidence was understood by some courts to permit the government to satisfy the notice obligation without describing the specific act that the evidence would tend to prove, and without explaining the relevance of the evidence for a non-propensity purpose. This amendment makes clear what notice is required.

• The pretrial notice must be in writing—which requirement is satisfied by notice in electronic form. See Rule 101(b)(6). Requiring the notice to be in writing provides certainty and reduces arguments about whether notice was actually provided.

• Notice must be provided before trial in such time as to allow the defendant a fair opportunity to meet the evidence, unless the court excuses that requirement upon a showing of good cause. See Rules 609(b), 807, and 902(11). Advance notice of Rule 404(b) evidence is important so that the parties and the court have adequate opportunity to assess the evidence, the purpose for which it is offered, and whether the requirements of Rule 403 have been satisfied—even in cases in which a final determination as to the admissibility of the evidence must await trial. When notice is provided during trial after a finding of good cause, the court may need to consider protective measures to assure that the opponent is not prejudiced. See, e.g., United States v. Lopez–Gutierrez, 83 F.3d 1235 (10th Cir. 1996) (notice given at trial due to good cause; the trial court properly made the witness available to the defendant before the bad act evidence was introduced); United States v. Perez–Tosta, 36 F.3d 1552 (11th Cir. 1994) (defendant was granted five days to prepare after notice was given, upon good cause, just before voir dire).

• The good cause exception applies not only to the timing of the notice as a whole but also to the timing of the obligations to articulate a non-propensity purpose and the reasoning supporting that purpose. A good cause exception for the timing of the articulation requirements is necessary because in some cases an additional permissible purpose for the evidence may not become clear until just before, or even during, trial.

• Finally, the amendment eliminates the requirement that the defendant must make a request before notice is provided. That requirement is not found in any other notice provision in the Federal Rules of Evidence. It has resulted mostly in boilerplate demands on the one hand, and a trap for the unwary on the other. Moreover, many local rules require the government to provide notice of Rule 404(b) material without regard to whether it has been requested. And in many cases, notice is provided when the government moves in limine for an advance ruling on the admissibility of Rule 404(b) evidence. The request requirement has thus outlived any usefulness it may once have had.

As to the textual clarifications, the word “other” is restored to the location it held before restyling in 2011, to confirm that Rule 404(b) applies to crimes, wrongs and acts “other” than those at issue in the case; and the headings are changed accordingly. No substantive change is intended.

Agenda E–19

Rules

September 2019

REPORT OF THE JUDICIAL CONFERENCE

COMMITTEE ON RULES OF PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE

TO THE CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE UNITED STATES AND MEMBERS OF THE JUDICIAL CONFERENCE OF THE UNITED STATES:

* * * * *

FEDERAL RULES OF EVIDENCE

Rule Recommended for Approval and Transmission

The Advisory Committee submitted a proposed amendment to Rule 404, with a recommendation that it be approved and transmitted to the Judicial Conference. The proposed amendment was published for public comment in August 2018.

Rule 404(b) is the rule that governs the admissibility of evidence of other crimes, wrongs, or acts. Several courts of appeal have suggested that the rule needs to be more carefully applied and have set forth criteria for more careful application. In its ongoing review of the developing case law, the Advisory Committee determined that it would not propose substantive amendment of Rule 404(b) because any such amendment would make the rule more complex without rendering substantial improvement.

However, the Advisory Committee did recognize that important protection for defendants in criminal cases could be promoted by expanding the prosecutor’s notice obligations under the rule. The DOJ proffered language that would require the prosecutor to describe in the notice “the non-propensity purpose for which the prosecutor intends to offer the evidence and the reasoning that supports the purpose.” In addition, the Advisory Committee determined that the current requirement that the prosecutor must disclose only the “general nature” of the bad act should be deleted considering the prosecution’s expanded notice obligations under the DOJ proposal, and that the existing requirement that the defendant request notice was an unnecessary impediment and should be deleted.

Finally, the Advisory Committee determined that the restyled phrase “crimes, wrongs, or other acts” should be restored to its original form: “other crimes, wrongs, or acts.” This would clarify that Rule 404(b) applies to crimes, wrongs, and acts other than those charged.

The comments received were generally favorable. The Advisory Committee considered those comments, as well as discussion at the June 2018 Standing Committee meeting, and made minor changes to the proposed amendment, including changing the term “non-propensity purpose” to “permitted purpose.”

The Standing Committee voted unanimously to adopt the recommendations of the Advisory Committee.

* * * * *

Recommendation: That the Judicial Conference approve the proposed amendment to Evidence Rule 404 * * * and transmit it to the Supreme Court for consideration with a recommendation that it be adopted by the Court and transmitted to Congress in accordance with the law.

* * * * *

Respectfully submitted,David G. CampbellChairJesse M. Furman Peter D. KeislerDaniel C. Girard William K. KelleyRobert J. Giuffra Jr. Carolyn B. KuhlSusan P. Graber Jeffrey A. RosenFrank M. Hull Srikanth SrinivasanWilliam J. Kayatta Jr. Amy J. St. Eve

COMMITTEE ON RULES OF PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE OF THE JUDICIAL CONFERENCE OF THE UNITED STATES

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20544

DAVID G. CAMPBELL CHAIRS OF ADVISORY COMMITTEES
CHAIR
MICHAEL A. CHAGARES
REBECCA A. WOMELDORF APPELLATE RULES
SECRETARY
DENNIS R. DOW
BANKRUPTCY RULES
JOHN D. BATES
CIVIL RULES
DONALD W. MOLLOY
CRIMINAL RULES
DEBRA ANN LIVINGSTON
EVIDENCE RULES

MEMORANDUM

TO: Hon. David G. Campbell, Chair
Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure
FROM: Hon. Debra A. Livingston, Chair
Advisory Committee on Evidence Rules
RE: Report of the Advisory Committee on Evidence Rules
DATE: May 30, 2019

I. Introduction.

The Advisory Committee on Evidence Rules (the “Committee”) met on May 3, 2019, in Washington, D.C.

* * * * *

The Committee made the following determinations at the meeting:

• It unanimously approved the proposed amendment to Rule 404(b) and is submitting it to the Standing Committee for final approval.

* * * * *

II. Action Item

A. Proposed Amendment to Rule 404(b), for Final Approval. The Committee has been monitoring significant developments in the case law on Rule 404(b), governing admissibility of other crimes, wrongs, or acts. Several Circuit courts have suggested that the rule needs to be more carefully applied and have set forth criteria for that more careful application. The focus has been on three areas:

1) Requiring the prosecutor not only to articulate a proper purpose but to explain how the bad act evidence proves that purpose without relying on a propensity inference.

2) Limiting admissibility of bad acts offered to prove intent or knowledge where the defendant has not actively contested those elements.

3) Limiting the “inextricably intertwined” doctrine, under which bad act evidence is not covered by Rule 404(b) because it proves a fact that is inextricably intertwined with the charged crime.

Over several meetings, the Committee considered a number of textual changes to address these case law developments. At its April, 2018 meeting the Committee determined that it would not propose substantive amendments to Rule 404(b) to accord with the developing case law, because they would make the Rule more complex without rendering substantial improvement. Thus, any attempt to define “inextricably intertwined” is unlikely to do any better than the courts are already doing, because each case is fact-sensitive, and line-drawing between “other” acts and acts charged will always be indeterminate. Further, any attempt to codify an “active dispute” raises questions about how “active” a dispute would have to be, and is a matter better addressed by balancing probative value and prejudicial effect. Finally, an attempt to require the court to establish the probative value of a bad act by a chain of inferences that did not involve propensity would add substantial complexity, while ignoring that in some cases, a bad act is legitimately offered for a proper purpose but is nonetheless bound up with a propensity inference — an example would be use of the well-known “doctrine of chances” to prove the unlikelihood that two unusual acts could have both been accidental.

The Committee also considered a proposal to provide a more protective balancing test for bad acts offered against defendants in criminal cases: that the probative value must outweigh the prejudicial effect. While this proposal would have the virtue of flexibility and would rely on the traditional discretion that courts have in this area, the Committee determined that it would result in too much exclusion of important, probative evidence.

The Committee did recognize, however, that important protection for defendants in criminal cases could be promoted by expanding the prosecutor’s notice obligations under Rule 404(b). The Department of Justice proffered language that would require the prosecutor to “articulate in the notice the non-propensity purpose for which the prosecutor intends to offer the evidence and the reasoning that supports the purpose.” In addition, the Committee determined that the current requirement that the prosecutor must disclose only the “general nature” of the bad act should be deleted, in light of the prosecution’s expanded notice obligations under the DOJ proposal. And the Committee easily determined that the existing requirement that the defendant request notice was an unnecessary impediment and should be deleted.

Finally, the Committee determined that the restyled phrase “crimes, wrongs, or other acts” should be restored to its original form: “other crimes, wrongs, or acts.” This would clarify that Rule 404(b) applies to other acts and not the acts charged.

The proposal to amend Rule 404(b), focusing mainly on a fortified notice requirement in criminal cases, was released for public comment in August, 2018. The public comment was sparse, but largely affirmative. At its May, 2019 meeting, the Committee considered the public comments, as well as comments made at the Standing Committee meeting of June, 2018. The Committee made minor changes to the proposal as issued for public comment — the most important change being that the term “non-propensity purpose” in the text was changed to “permitted purpose.”

The Committee unanimously approved proposed amendments to the notice provision of Rule 404(b), and the textual clarification of “other” crimes, wrongs, or acts. The Committee recommends that these proposed changes, and the accompanying Committee Note, be approved by the Standing Committee and referred to the Judicial Conference.

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Go directly to the 2022 Federal Rules of Evidence table of contents » The Federal Rules of Evidence are a set of rules that governs the introduction of evidence at civil and criminal trials in United States federal trial courts. The current rules were initially passed by Congress in 1975, after several years of drafting by the Supreme Court. The […]

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Table of Contents

As amended through December 1, 2020 ARTICLE I. GENERAL PROVISIONS Rule 101. Scope; Definitions Rule 102. Purpose Rule 103. Rulings on Evidence Rule 104. Preliminary Questions Rule 105. Limiting Evidence That Is Not Admissible Against Other Parties or for Other Purposes Rule 106. Remainder of or Related Writings or Recorded Statements ARTICLE II. JUDICIAL NOTICE Rule 201. Judicial Notice of […]

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Article IV – Relevance and its Limits

Rule 401. Test for Relevant Evidence Rule 402. General Admissibility of Relevant Evidence Rule 403. Excluding Relevant Evidence for Prejudice, Confusion, Waste of Time, or Other Reasons Rule 404. Character Evidence; Crimes or Other Acts Rule 405. Methods of Proving Character Rule 406. Habit; Routine Practice Rule 407. Subsequent Remedial Measures Rule 408. Compromise Offers and Negotiations Rule 409. Offers […]

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Federal Rules of Evidence Amendments for 2019-2020

SUPREME COURT

OF THE UNITED STATES

Proposed amendments to the Federal Rules of Evidence, Rule 807

Effective December 1, 2019, absent contrary Congressional action

April 25, 2019

Honorable Nancy Pelosi

Speaker of the House of Representatives

Washington, DC 20515

Dear Madam Speaker:

I have the honor to submit to the Congress the amendment to the Federal Rules of Evidence that has been adopted by the Supreme Court of the United States pursuant to Section 2072 of Title 28, United States Code.

Accompanying this rule are the following materials that were submitted to the Court for its consideration pursuant to Section 331 of Title 28, United States Code: a transmittal letter to the Court dated October 24, 2018; a redline version of the rule with committee note; an excerpt from the September 2018 report of the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure to the Judicial Conference of the United States; and an excerpt from the May 2018 report of the Advisory Committee on Evidence Rules.

Sincerely,/s/ John G. Roberts

April 25, 2019

Honorable Michael R. Pence

President, United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Mr. President:

I have the honor to submit to the Congress the amendment to the Federal Rules of Evidence that has been adopted by the Supreme Court of the United States pursuant to Section 2072 of Title 28, United States Code.

Accompanying this rule are the following materials that were submitted to the Court for its consideration pursuant to Section 331 of Title 28, United States Code: a transmittal letter to the Court dated October 24, 2018; a redline version of the rule with committee note; an excerpt from the September 2018 report of the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure to the Judicial Conference of the United States; and an excerpt from the May 2018 report of the Advisory Committee on Evidence Rules.

Sincerely,/s/ John G. Roberts

ORDER OF APRIL 25, 2019

  1. The Federal Rules of Evidence are amended to include an amendment to Rule 807.

[See infra pp. __ __ __.]

  1. The foregoing amendment to the Federal Rules of Evidence shall take effect on December 1, 2019, and shall govern in all proceedings thereafter commenced and, insofar as just and practicable, all proceedings then pending.
  1. THE CHIEF JUSTICE is authorized to transmit to the Congress the foregoing amendment to the Federal Rules of Evidence in accordance with the provisions of Section 2074 of Title 28, United States Code.

PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE

FEDERAL RULES OF EVIDENCE

Rule 807. Residual Exception

(a) In General. Under the following conditions, a hearsay statement is not excluded by the rule against hearsay even if the statement is not admissible under a hearsay exception in Rule 803 or 804:

(1) the statement is supported by sufficient guarantees of trustworthiness—after considering the totality of circumstances under which it was made and evidence, if any, corroborating the statement; and

(2) it is more probative on the point for which it is offered than any other evidence that the proponent can obtain through reasonable efforts.

(b) Notice. The statement is admissible only if the proponent gives an adverse party reasonable notice of the intent to offer the statement—including its substance and the declarant’s name—so that the party has a fair opportunity to meet it. The notice must be provided in writing before the trial or hearing—or in any form during the trial or hearing if the court, for good cause, excuses a lack of earlier notice.

JUDICIAL CONFERENCE OF THE UNITED STATES

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20544

October 24, 2018

MEMORANDUM

To:     Chief Justice of the United States    
  Associate Justices of the Supreme Court    
     
From:     James C. Duff    
     
RE:     TRANSMITTAL OF PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO THE FEDERAL RULES OF EVIDENCE    

By direction of the Judicial Conference of the United States, pursuant to the authority conferred by 28 U.S.C. § 331, I transmit herewith for consideration of the Court the proposed amendment to Rule 807 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, which was approved by the Judicial Conference at its September 2018 session. The Judicial Conference recommends that the amendment be adopted by the Court and transmitted to the Congress pursuant to law.

For your assistance in considering the proposed amendment, I am transmitting: (i) a copy of the affected rule incorporating the proposed amendment and accompanying Committee Note; (ii) a redline version of the same; (iii) an excerpt from the September 2018 Report of the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure to the Judicial Conference; and (iv) an excerpt from the May 2018 Report of the Advisory Committee on Evidence Rules.

Attachments

PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE

FEDERAL RULES OF EVIDENCE

<< FRE Rule 807 >>

Rule 807. Residual Exception

(a) In General. Under the following conditions, a hearsay statement is not excluded by the rule against hearsay even if the statement is not admissible under a hearsay exception in Rule 803 or 804:

(1) the statement is supported by sufficient guarantees of trustworthiness—after considering the totality of circumstances under which it was made and evidence, if any, corroborating the statement; and

(2) it is more probative on the point for which it is offered than any other evidence that the proponent can obtain through reasonable efforts.

(b) Notice. The statement is admissible only if the proponent gives an adverse party reasonable notice of the intent to offer the statement—including its substance and the declarant’s name—so that the party has a fair opportunity to meet it. The notice must be provided in writing before the trial or hearing—or in any form during the trial or hearing if the court, for good cause, excuses a lack of earlier notice.

Committee Note

Rule 807 has been amended to fix a number of problems that the courts have encountered in applying it.

Courts have had difficulty with the requirement that the proffered hearsay carry “equivalent” circumstantial guarantees of trustworthiness. The “equivalence” standard is difficult to apply, given the different types of guarantees of reliability, of varying strength, found among the categorical exceptions (as well as the fact that some hearsay exceptions, e.g., Rule 804(b)(6), are not based on reliability at all). The “equivalence” standard has not served to guide a court’s discretion to admit hearsay, because the court is free to choose among a spectrum of exceptions for comparison. Moreover, experience has shown that some statements offered as residual hearsay cannot be compared usefully to any of the categorical exceptions and yet might well be trustworthy. Thus the requirement of an equivalence analysis has been eliminated. Under the amendment, the court should proceed directly to a determination of whether the hearsay is supported by guarantees of trustworthiness. See Rule 104(a). As with any hearsay statement offered under an exception, the court’s threshold finding that admissibility requirements are met merely means that the jury may consider the statement and not that it must assume the statement to be true.

The amendment specifically requires the court to consider corroborating evidence in the trustworthiness enquiry. Most courts have required the consideration of corroborating evidence, though some courts have disagreed. The rule now provides for a uniform approach, and recognizes that the existence or absence of corroboration is relevant to, but not dispositive of, whether a statement should be admissible under this exception. Of course, the court must consider not only the existence of corroborating evidence but also the strength and quality of that evidence.

The amendment does not alter the case law prohibiting parties from proceeding directly to the residual exception, without considering the admissibility of the hearsay under Rules 803 and 804. A court is not required to make a finding that no other hearsay exception is applicable. But the opponent cannot seek admission under Rule 807 if it is apparent that the hearsay could be admitted under another exception.

The rule in its current form applies to hearsay “not specifically covered” by a Rule 803 or 804 exception. The amendment makes the rule applicable to hearsay “not admissible under” those exceptions. This clarifies that a court assessing guarantees of trustworthiness may consider whether the statement is a “near-miss” of one of the Rule 803 or 804 exceptions. If the court employs a “near-miss” analysis it should—in addition to evaluating all relevant guarantees of trustworthiness—take into account the reasons that the hearsay misses the admissibility requirements of the standard exception.

In deciding whether the statement is supported by sufficient guarantees of trustworthiness, the court should not consider the credibility of any witness who relates the declarant’s hearsay statement in court. The credibility of an in-court witness does not present a hearsay question. To base admission or exclusion of a hearsay statement on the witness’s credibility would usurp the jury’s role of determining the credibility of testifying witnesses. The rule provides that the focus for trustworthiness is on circumstantial guarantees surrounding the making of the statement itself, as well as any independent evidence corroborating the statement. The credibility of the witness relating the statement is not a part of either enquiry.

Of course, even if the court finds sufficient guarantees of trustworthiness, the independent requirements of the Confrontation Clause must be satisfied if the hearsay statement is offered against a defendant in a criminal case.

The Committee decided to retain the requirement that the proponent must show that the hearsay statement is more probative than any other evidence that the proponent can reasonably obtain. This necessity requirement will continue to serve to prevent the residual exception from being used as a device to erode the categorical exceptions.

The requirements that residual hearsay must be evidence of a material fact and that its admission will best serve the purposes of these rules and the interests of justice have been deleted. These requirements have proved to be superfluous in that they are already found in other rules. See Rules 102, 401.

The notice provision has been amended to make four changes in the operation of the rule:

  • First, the amendment requires the proponent to disclose the “substance” of the statement. This term is intended to require a description that is sufficiently specific under the circumstances to allow the opponent a fair opportunity to meet the evidence. See Rule 103(a)(2) (requiring the party making an offer of proof to inform the court of the “substance” of the evidence).
  • Second, the prior requirement that the declarant’s address must be disclosed has been deleted. That requirement was nonsensical when the declarant was unavailable, and unnecessary in the many cases in which the declarant’s address was known or easily obtainable. If prior disclosure of the declarant’s address is critical and cannot be obtained by the opponent through other means, then the opponent can seek relief from the court.
  • Third, the amendment requires that the pretrial notice be in writing—which is satisfied by notice in electronic form. See Rule 101(b)(6). Requiring the notice to be in writing provides certainty and reduces arguments about whether notice was actually provided.
  • Finally, the pretrial notice provision has been amended to provide for a good cause exception. Most courts have applied a good cause exception under Rule 807 even though the rule in its current form does not provide for it, while some courts have read the rule as it was written. Experience under the residual exception has shown that a good cause exception is necessary in certain limited situations. For example, the proponent may not become aware of the existence of the hearsay statement until after the trial begins, or the proponent may plan to call a witness who without warning becomes unavailable during trial, and the proponent might then need to resort to residual hearsay.

The rule retains the requirement that the opponent receive notice in a way that provides a fair opportunity to meet the evidence. When notice is provided during trial after a finding of good cause, the court may need to consider protective measures, such as a continuance, to assure that the opponent is not prejudiced.

PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE

FEDERAL RULES OF EVIDENCE1

Rule 807. Residual Exception

(a) In General. Under the following circumstances conditions, a hearsay statement is not excluded by the rule against hearsay even if the statement is not specifically covered byadmissible under a hearsay exception in Rule 803 or 804:

(1) the statement has equivalent circumstantialis supported by sufficient guarantees of trustworthiness—after considering the totality of circumstances under which it was made and evidence, if any, corroborating the statement; and

(2) it is offered as evidence of a material fact;

(32) it is more 13 probative on the point for which it is offered than any other evidence that the proponent can obtain through reasonable efforts; and

(4) admitting it will best serve the purposes of these rules and the interests of justice.

(b) Notice. The statement is admissible only if, before the trial or hearing, the proponent gives an adverse party reasonable notice of the intent to offer the statement and its particulars, including the declarant’s name and address, —including its substance and the declarant’s name— so that the party has a fair opportunity to meet it. The notice must be provided in writing before the trial or hearing—or in any form during the trial or hearing if the court, for good cause, excuses a lack of earlier notice.

Committee Note

Rule 807 has been amended to fix a number of problems that the courts have encountered in applying it.

Courts have had difficulty with the requirement that the proffered hearsay carry “equivalent” circumstantial guarantees of trustworthiness. The “equivalence” standard is difficult to apply, given the different types of guarantees of reliability, of varying strength, found among the categorical exceptions (as well as the fact that some hearsay exceptions, e.g., Rule 804(b)(6), are not based on reliability at all). The “equivalence” standard has not served to guide a court’s discretion to admit hearsay, because the court is free to choose among a spectrum of exceptions for comparison. Moreover, experience has shown that some statements offered as residual hearsay cannot be compared usefully to any of the categorical exceptions and yet might well be trustworthy. Thus the requirement of an equivalence analysis has been eliminated. Under the amendment, the court should proceed directly to a determination of whether the hearsay is supported by guarantees of trustworthiness. See Rule 104(a). As with any hearsay statement offered under an exception, the court’s threshold finding that admissibility requirements are met merely means that the jury may consider the statement and not that it must assume the statement to be true.

The amendment specifically requires the court to consider corroborating evidence in the trustworthiness enquiry. Most courts have required the consideration of corroborating evidence, though some courts have disagreed. The rule now provides for a uniform approach, and recognizes that the existence or absence of corroboration is relevant to, but not dispositive of, whether a statement should be admissible under this exception. Of course, the court must consider not only the existence of corroborating evidence but also the strength and quality of that evidence.

The amendment does not alter the case law prohibiting parties from proceeding directly to the residual exception, without considering the admissibility of the hearsay under Rules 803 and 804. A court is not required to make a finding that no other hearsay exception is applicable. But the opponent cannot seek admission under Rule 807 if it is apparent that the hearsay could be admitted under another exception.

The rule in its current form applies to hearsay “not specifically covered” by a Rule 803 or 804 exception. The amendment makes the rule applicable to hearsay “not admissible under” those exceptions. This clarifies that a court assessing guarantees of trustworthiness may consider whether the statement is a “near-miss” of one of the Rule 803 or 804 exceptions. If the court employs a “nearmiss” analysis it should—in addition to evaluating all relevant guarantees of trustworthiness—take into account the reasons that the hearsay misses the admissibility requirements of the standard exception.

In deciding whether the statement is supported by sufficient guarantees of trustworthiness, the court should not consider the credibility of any witness who relates the declarant’s hearsay statement in court. The credibility of an in-court witness does not present a hearsay question. To base admission or exclusion of a hearsay statement on the witness’s credibility would usurp the jury’s role of determining the credibility of testifying witnesses. The rule provides that the focus for trustworthiness is on circumstantial guarantees surrounding the making of the statement itself, as well as any independent evidence corroborating the statement. The credibility of the witness relating the statement is not a part of either enquiry.

Of course, even if the court finds sufficient guarantees of trustworthiness, the independent requirements of the Confrontation Clause must be satisfied if the hearsay statement is offered against a defendant in a criminal case.

The Committee decided to retain the requirement that the proponent must show that the hearsay statement is more probative than any other evidence that the proponent can reasonably obtain. This necessity requirement will continue to serve to prevent the residual exception from being used as a device to erode the categorical exceptions.

The requirements that residual hearsay must be evidence of a material fact and that its admission will best serve the purposes of these rules and the interests of justice have been deleted. These requirements have proved to be superfluous in that they are already found in other rules. See Rules 102, 401.

The notice provision has been amended to make four changes in the operation of the rule:

  • First, the amendment requires the proponent to disclose the “substance” of the statement. This term is intended to require a description that is sufficiently specific under the circumstances to allow the opponent a fair opportunity to meet the evidence. See Rule 103(a)(2) (requiring the party making an offer of proof to inform the court of the “substance” of the evidence).
  • Second, the prior requirement that the declarant’s address must be disclosed has been deleted. That requirement was nonsensical when the declarant was unavailable, and unnecessary in the many cases in which the declarant’s address was known or easily obtainable. If prior disclosure of the declarant’s address is critical and cannot be obtained by the opponent through other means, then the opponent can seek relief from the court.
  • Third, the amendment requires that the pretrial notice be in writing—which is satisfied by notice in electronic form. See Rule 101(b)(6). Requiring the notice to be in writing provides certainty and reduces arguments about whether notice was actually provided.
  • Finally, the pretrial notice provision has been amended to provide for a good cause exception. Most courts have applied a good cause exception under Rule 807 even though the rule in its current form does not provide for it, while some courts have read the rule as it was written. Experience under the residual exception has shown that a good cause exception is necessary in certain limited situations. For example, the proponent may not become aware of the existence of the hearsay statement until after the trial begins, or the proponent may plan to call a witness who without warning becomes unavailable during trial, and the proponent might then need to resort to residual hearsay.

The rule retains the requirement that the opponent receive notice in a way that provides a fair opportunity to meet the evidence. When notice is provided during trial after a finding of good cause, the court may need to consider protective measures, such as a continuance, to assure that the opponent is not prejudiced.

Excerpt from the September 2018 Report of the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure

REPORT OF THE JUDICIAL CONFERENCE

COMMITTEE ON RULES OF PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE

TO THE CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE UNITED STATES AND MEMBERS OF THE

JUDICIAL CONFERENCE OF THE UNITED STATES:

* * * * *

FEDERAL RULES OF EVIDENCE

Rule Recommended for Approval and Transmission

The Advisory Committee on Rules of Evidence submitted proposed amendments to Rule 807, with a recommendation that they be approved and transmitted to the Judicial Conference.

The project to amend Rule 807 (Residual Exception) began with exploring the possibility of expanding it to admit more hearsay and to grant trial courts somewhat more discretion in admitting hearsay on a case-by-case basis. After extensive deliberation, the Advisory Committee determined that it would not seek to expand the breadth of the exception. But in conducting its review of cases decided under the residual exception, and in discussions with experts at a conference at Pepperdine Law School, the Advisory Committee determined that there are a number of problems in the application of the exception that could be improved by rule amendment. The problems addressed by the proposed amendment to Rule 807 are as follows:

  1. The requirement that the court find trustworthiness “equivalent” to the circumstantial guarantees in the Rule 803 and 804 exceptions is exceedingly difficult to apply, because there is no unitary standard of trustworthiness in the Rule 803 and 804 exceptions.
  1. Courts are in dispute about whether to consider corroborating evidence in determining whether a statement is trustworthy. The Advisory Committee determined that an amendment would be useful to provide uniformity in the approach to evaluating trustworthiness under the residual exception, and substantively, that amendment should specifically allow the court to consider corroborating evidence, because corroboration provides a guarantee of trustworthiness.
  1. The requirements in Rule 807 that the hearsay must be proof of a “material fact” and that admission of the hearsay be in “the interests of justice” and consistent with the “purpose of the rules” have not served any good purpose. The Advisory Committee determined that the rule will be improved by deleting the references to “material fact” and “interest of justice” and “purpose of the rules.”
  1. The notice requirement in current Rule 807 is problematic because it does not contain a good cause exception, it does not require the notice to be provided in writing, and its requirements of disclosure of the “particulars” of the statement and the name and address of the declarant are difficult to implement.

Proposed amendments to Rule 807 were published for comment in August 2017. The Advisory Committee received nine public comments. It carefully considered those comments, most of which were positive, and made some changes. The Advisory Committee also implemented some of the suggestions made by members of the Standing Committee at its June 2017 meeting, including adding references to Rule 104(a) and to the Confrontation Clause to the committee note. Finally, the Advisory Committee addressed a dispute in the courts about whether the residual exception could be used when the hearsay is a “near-miss” of a standard exception. A change to the text and committee note as issued for public comment provides that a statement that nearly misses a standard exception can be admissible under Rule 807 so long as the court finds that there are sufficient guarantees of trustworthiness.

The Standing Committee voted unanimously to adopt the recommendation of the Advisory Committee. The proposed amendments to the Federal Rules of Evidence and committee note are set forth in Appendix D, with an excerpt from the Advisory Committee’s report.

Recommendation: That the Judicial Conference approve the proposed amendments to Evidence Rule 807 as set forth in Appendix D and transmit them to the Supreme Court for consideration with a recommendation that it be adopted by the Court and transmitted to Congress in accordance with the law.

* * * * *

Respectfully submitted,David G. CampbellChairJesse M. FurmanDaniel C. GirardRobert J. Giuffra Jr.Susan P. GraberFrank M. HullPeter D. KeislerWilliam K. KelleyCarolyn B. KuhlRod J. RosensteinAmy J. St. EveSrikanth SrinivasanJack Zouhary

Excerpt from the May 14, 2018 Report of the Advisory Committee on Evidence Rules

COMMITTEE ON RULES OF PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE

OF THE

JUDICIAL CONFERENCE OF THE UNITED STATES

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20544

  1. Introduction. The Advisory Committee on Evidence Rules (the “Committee”) met on April 26–27, 2018 in Washington, D.C. *****

The Committee made the following determinations at the meeting:

  • It unanimously approved the proposed amendment to Rule 807, and is submitting it to the Standing Committee for final approval.

* * * * *

  1. Action Items
  2. Proposed Amendment to Rule 807, for Final Approval. At its June, 2017 meeting, the Standing Committee unanimously approved a proposed amendment to Rule 807 for release for public comment. The project to amend Rule 807 began with exploring the possibility of expanding it to admit more hearsay and to grant trial courts somewhat more discretion in admitting hearsay on a case-by-case basis. After extensive deliberation, the Advisory Committee determined that it would not seek to expand the breadth of the exception. In particular, the Committee was cognizant of concerns in the practicing bar about increasing judicial discretion to admit hearsay that was not covered by existing exceptions, as well as concerns by academics that expanding the residual exception would result in undermining the standard exceptions.

But in conducting its review of cases decided under the residual exception, and in discussions with experts at a Conference at Pepperdine Law School, the Advisory Committee determined that there are a number of problems in the application of the exception that could be improved by rule amendment. The problems that are addressed by the proposed amendment to Rule 807 are as follows:

  • The requirement that the court find trustworthiness “equivalent” to the circumstantial guarantees in the Rule 803 and 804 exceptions is exceedingly difficult to apply, because there is no unitary standard of trustworthiness in the Rule 803 and 804 exceptions. Statements falling within the Rule 804 exceptions are not as reliable as those admissible under Rule 803 and yet both sets are considered possible points of comparison for any statement offered as residual hearsay. And the bases of reliability differ from exception to exception. Moreover, one of the exceptions subject to “equivalence” review — Rule 804(b)(6) forfeiture — is not based on reliability at all. “Equivalence” thus does little or nothing to guide a court’s discretion. Given the difficulty and disutility of the “equivalence” standard, the Committee determined that a better, more user-friendly approach is simply to require the judge to find whether the statement is supported by sufficient guarantees of trustworthiness.
  • Courts are in dispute about whether to consider corroborating evidence in determining whether a statement is trustworthy. The Committee determined that an amendment would be useful to provide uniformity in the approach to evaluating trustworthiness under the residual exception — and substantively, that amendment should specifically allow the court to consider corroborating evidence, because corroboration provides a guarantee of trustworthiness. Thus, trustworthiness can best be defined in the rule as requiring an evaluation of two factors: 1) circumstantial guarantees surrounding the making of the statement, and 2) corroborating evidence. Adding a requirement that the court consider corroboration — or the lack thereof — is an improvement to the rule independent of any decision to expand the residual exception.
  • The requirements in Rule 807 that the residual hearsay must be proof of a “material fact” and that admission of residual hearsay be in “the interests of justice” and consistent with the “purpose of the rules” have not served any good purpose. The inclusion of the language “material fact” is in conflict with the drafters’ avoidance of the term “materiality” in Rule 403 — and that avoidance was well-reasoned, because the term “material” is used in so many different contexts. The courts have essentially held that “material” means “relevant” — and so nothing is added to Rule 807 by including it there. Likewise nothing is added to Rule 807 by referring to the interests of justice and the purpose of the rules because that guidance is already provided by Rule 102. Moreover, the interests of justice language could be — and has been — used as an invitation to judicial discretion to admit or exclude hearsay under Rule 807 simply because it leads to a “just” result. The Committee has determined that the rule will be improved by deleting the references to “material fact” and “interest of justice” and “purpose of the rules.”
  • The current notice requirement is problematic in at least four respects:

1) Most importantly, there is no provision for allowing untimely notice upon a showing of good cause. This absence has led to a conflict in the courts on whether a court even has the power to excuse notice no matter how good the cause. Other notice provisions in the Evidence Rules (e.g., Rule 404(b)) contain good cause provisions, so adding such a provision to Rule 807 will promote uniformity.

2) The requirement that the proponent disclose “particulars” has led to unproductive arguments and unnecessary case law.

3) There is no requirement that notice be in writing, which leads to disputes about whether notice was ever provided.

4) The requirement that the proponent disclose the declarant’s address is nonsensical when the witness is unavailable — which is usually the situation in which residual hearsay is offered.

The proposed amendments to the notice requirements solve all these problems.

Finally, it is important to note that the Committee has retained the requirement from the original rule that the proponent must establish that the proffered hearsay is more probative than any other evidence that the proponent can reasonably obtain to prove the point. Retaining the “more probative” requirement indicates that there is no intent to expand the residual exception, only to improve it. The “more probative” requirement ensures that the rule will only be invoked when it is necessary to do so.

Public Comment

The Committee received nine public comments on the Rule 807 proposal. It carefully considered those comments, most of which were positive, and made some changes as a result of the comments — mainly style suggestions. The Committee also implemented some of the suggestions made by members of the Standing Committee at its June, 2017 meeting — including adding a reference to Rule 104(a), and a reference to the Confrontation Clause, to the Committee Note. Finally, the Committee addressed a dispute in the courts about whether the residual exception could be used when the hearsay is a “near-miss” of a standard exception. A change to the text and Committee Note as issued for public comment provides that a statement that nearly misses a standard exception can be admissible under Rule 807 so long as the court finds that there are sufficient guarantees of trustworthiness.

The Committee unanimously recommends that the Standing Committee approve the proposed amendment to Rule 807 and the Committee Note, for referral to the Judicial Conference.

Rule 609 – Impeachment by Evidence of a Criminal Conviction

(a) In General. The following rules apply to attacking a witness’s character for truthfulness by evidence of a criminal conviction: (1) for a crime that, in the convicting jurisdiction, was punishable by death or by imprisonment for more than one year, the evidence: (A) must be admitted, subject to Rule 403, in a civil case or in a criminal case […]

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