Rule 101 – Scope; Definitions

(a) Scope. These rules apply to proceedings in United States courts. The specific courts and proceedings to which the rules apply, along with exceptions, are set out in Rule 1101.

(b) Definitions. In these rules:

(1) “civil case” means a civil action or proceeding;

(2) “criminal case” includes a criminal proceeding;

(3) “public office” includes a public agency;

(4) “record” includes a memorandum, report, or data compilation;

(5) a “rule prescribed by the Supreme Court” means a rule adopted by the Supreme Court under statutory authority; and

(6) a reference to any kind of written material or any other medium includes electronically stored information.

Summary and Explanation

Federal Rule of Evidence 101 sets the stage for the application and interpretation of the entire body of federal rules governing evidence in U.S. federal courts. It outlines the scope and purpose of these rules, establishing that they are applicable in all federal court proceedings, whether civil or criminal, and regardless of whether they are conducted by a jury or a judge.

Rule 101 also highlights the overarching objective of these rules, which is to secure fairness in the administration of justice. It emphasizes that they should be construed and applied to promote the growth and development of the law of evidence in a manner that ensures fairness and reliability in court proceedings. Additionally, Rule 101 acknowledges that these rules may be supplemented by other statutes or rules prescribed by the Supreme Court or Congress, but it clarifies that they should not be construed to limit a court’s authority to admit or exclude evidence under the law.

In summary, Rule 101 of the Federal Rules of Evidence serves as a foundational guideline that establishes the applicability and overarching purpose of the rules governing evidence in federal court proceedings, emphasizing the pursuit of fairness and reliability in the administration of justice.


(Pub.L. 93-595, § 1, Jan. 2, 1975, 88 Stat. 1929; Mar. 2, 1987, eff. Oct. 1, 1987; Apr. 25, 1988, eff. Nov. 1, 1988; Apr. 22, 1993, eff. Dec. 1, 1993; Apr. 26, 2011, eff. Dec. 1, 2011.)

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