It is common for attorneys to use legal “jargon” with which most people are unfamiliar with. It is the same in any profession. This is particularly true when talking about the controlling Indiana Rules of Evidence and about the admissibility of evidence and evidentiary foundations key to properly admitting evidence to properly present your case. This blog explains what these terms mean and how they might affect you when preparing for or during a hearing.
Indiana’s Rules of Evidence describe what is admissible, or allowed, to be submitted as evidence in court. The Rules were created to make court proceedings fair, and efficient, and help lead the judge to the facts necessary to decide the case—the truth. The most common evidentiary rules that come into play in family law proceedings include the following:
- Relevance: The first and key rule that applies in all cases is that the evidence must be relevant. Evidence is considered relevant if: “(a) it has any tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence; (2) and (b) the fact is of consequence in determining the action.” In common terms, the evidence must make the fact you are attempting to prove or disprove more or less likely, and that fact must directly relate to how the judge will decide the case. For example, if the color of a person’s shoes is asked out of the blue in a divorce case, it is not relevant as it has no impact on the evidence related to divorce. A judge would likely “sustain” the objection to relevance.
- Character evidence. Evidence of a person’s character is not admissible to prove that the person acted in accordance with that character on a specific occasion. For example, you cannot offer testimony or exhibits regarding various occasions where the other party lied to prove they must have doing so now. However, it is a different story if you have proof of such perjury in the your case, and it may be used to impeach the witness and show the court the (little) weight it should assign to their testimony.
- Hearsay. Hearsay is a statement that: “(1) is not made by the declarant while testifying at the trial or hearing; and (2) is offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted. This means that a person cannot testify about what someone else told them to prove that something is true. An example of this would be testifying that a friend told you your spouse was hiding assets to prove that your spouse is hiding assets. However, a statement made to you by your spouse they hiding assets is not hearsay because it is a statement between the parties to the litigation.
Indiana’s Rules of Evidence also describe the procedure for admitting evidence. This is known as the foundation. Evidence otherwise admissible maybe excluded if it is not accompanied by the right evidentiary found. For example, if you have a photograph that you want to use as evidence in court, you must have the person who took the photograph testify that they took the photograph and that it is an accurate representation of what they saw when taking it. This is because you must be able to prove that the item you want to use as evidence is what you claim it to be. That is what is referred to as an evidentiary foundation.
The Rules of Evidence are complicated and take a significant amount of work in advance to properly comply with. If this is not done, the best evidence for your case might not make it into evidence. This could cause you to lose your case when you should not because you did not comply with the Indiana Rules of Evidence. The experienced attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. can help you determine what evidence is admissible and how to lay a foundation to have your key evidence admitted at trial.
This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. We skilled trial attorneys and know the Indiana Rules of Evidence and will properly prepare for your case. This blog is written for general educational purposes. This blog is not intended to be relied upon for any legal matter or issue. The blog is not legal advice. This is an advertisement.