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Federal Rules of Evidence

As discussed on another page of my Website, the Federal Rules of Evidence originated through an Act of Congress in 1934. However, it was only proposed through that Act, not actually sanctioned until forty-one years later in 1975. It was a long road until it was finally enacted in that year.

Before these rules were finally approved through many years of Judicial and Congressional study, and finally the signature of President Gerald Ford, all evidentiary rules were determined by which independent state where a federal criminal crime took place was tried.

After the Rules Enabling Act of 1934, by 1938 former Attorney General William Mitchell recommended that an advisory board should take on the task of revising the rules as they stood and compose a new set of rules to be propagated by the Supreme Court; however no advisory board was implemented.

Over the next 20 years, articles were disseminated by numerous leading legal publications regarding the issue, including those by the Harvard and Vanderbilt Law Reviews as well the Insurance Law Journal of the American Bar Association (ABA). These papers all spoke to an approval of the subject.

In the late 1950s, two events transpired bringing the implementation of a uniform system closer to coming to pass. First, in 1958, the House of Delegates of the American Bar Association made a recommendation for the design of uniform regulations. Later that decade, a Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure was established by the Judicial Conference.

Three years later, the creation of an Advisory Committee was requested by the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure and approved by the Judicial Conference in 1961. This format of procedure was approved to initiate evidentiary rules. As explained on the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure webpage, the Judicial Conference is the policy making arm of the Supreme Court.

A special committee was then structured by the Advisory Committee to further make recommendations on the suitability and viability of fashioning a modern set of uniform rules of evidence to be put into application for the federal court system.

An eight member special committee was then selected by Chief Justice Earl Warren, headed by Professor James William Moore, along with the membership of all chairmen from the Criminal, Civil Appellate, Bankruptcy, and Admiralty Committees considered experts in their field, to ensure diverse perspectives. Thomas F. Green, Jr. from the Law School of the University of Georgia was appointed the committee reporter.

In February, 1962 the report by the special committee was submitted for review with a supplemental document authored by Professor Green titled "Preliminary Study of the Advisability and Feasibility of Developing Uniform Rules of Evidence for the Federal Courts."

However, after the reports by the special committee was presented and proposed, it took almost another 13 years of drafting and contemplation by Congress and numerous judicial committees to move forward.

It wasn't until 1973 that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court submitted the newly proposed rules with the Judicial Conference's recommendation, subject to approval only when explicitly approved by an Act of Congress. From there it bounced back and forth between the House of Representatives and the Senate, specifically the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.

It passed unanimously in the Senate on November 22, 1974 and made it through the House by a vote of 363 to 32 in December of that year. It was presented to the President of the United States on Dec. 18 and signed on January 2, 1975.

The following day, President Gerald R. Ford announced his approval of the new Federal Rules of Evidence noting that for the first time in the nation's history, uniform rules of evidence regarding federal cases had been expedited. His statement can be read by clicking here.   

Knowing the history of the Federal Rules of Evidence demonstrates how slowly the wheels of justice can turn. But more importantly if a criminal matter is charged it is crucial to hire an attorney who has complete knowledge of all aspects and topics found in this uniform code.

As a former Assistant United States Attorney frequently representing federal criminal cases brought against my clients by the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida as well as other federal cases throughout the country my law office can help defend you against all federal criminal charges.

If you or a friend or family member is charged with any federal crime, my knowledge of the federal rules of evidence in addition to all aspects of federal criminal law will be a great benefit for assisting in countering any federal charges brought forward by the government as well as the State of Florida.  

To view my qualifications and read more about the services I can offer click here or call my office at: 954.928.0059.