Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Changes to Federal Rules of Evidence

The Supreme Court today voted to approve some changes to the Federal Rules of Evidence. The changes will become effective December 1, unless Congress votes first to block the changes.

Here's the summary from, which links to the text of the amendments.

  • Evidence Rule 404 (Character Evidence Not Admissible to Prove Conduct; Exceptions; Other Crimes) (clarifies that evidence of a person's character is never admissible to prove conduct in a civil case)
  • Evidence Rule 408 (Compromise and Offers to Compromise) (resolves conflicts in caselaw about statements and offers made during settlement negotiations admitted as evidence of fault or used for impeachment purposes).
  • Evidence Rule 606 (Competency of Juror as Witness) (clarifies that juror testimony may be received only for very limited purposes, including to prove that the verdict reported was the result of a clerical mistake)
  • Evidence Rule 609 (Impeachment by Evidence of Conviction of Crime) (permits automatic impeachment only when an element of the crime requires proof of deceit or if the underlying act of deceit readily can be determined from information such as the charging instrument)
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