CJUS440-1403B-02: Laws of Evidence
Phase 4 Individual Project
Professor Paul Normann
September 20, 2014
The Federal Rules of Evidence (FRE) were enacted in 1975 and outline the guidelines for evidence deemed to be admissible in all United States federal courts of law. Rule 1002, also known as the best evidence rule, requires that the original of any document, photograph or recording is to be produced if a party seeks to admit said evidence in a trial court. Provisions for circumstances in which the original is unavailable include that a duplicate of the original can be used as admissible evidence once approved by the court. Accountability is demanded of the producing party and the court requires an explanation regarding the unavailability of original evidence or the inability to produce the original. The reasoning for such guidelines focus on the basic principles of reliability, efficiency, relevance, overall fairness and unfair surprise of the entire adversary process of trial to ensure opportunity for both defense and prosecution. These rules afford a trial judge the opportunity to exercise discretion toward the evidence presented and whether or not to admit certain pieces of evidence if they see fit (Stevens & Doyle, 2002). Prior to this rule, there was no safeguard against altered copies, electronic fraud or the refusal to present originals. However, the rationale behind the best evidence rule is that it establishes not only a precedence for the production of accurate evidence but also emphasizes the repercussions of law for tampering or falsifying evidence.
In 1928, Roy Olmstead was convicted for alleged conspiracy to violate the National Prohibition Act, specifically unlawfully possessing, transporting and selling alcohol. The evidence proving said activities were recordings of telephone conversations obtained through wiretaps that were not approved judicially by a warrant. On appeal, the decision was held based...