Hooray for the Federal Rules of Evidence!

The Federal Rules of Evidence used in United States federal courts and adopted by many states and the military are the codification of many years of common law rules of evidence. The development of modern rules of evidence has been a process of nothing more than putting old wine into new skins. If one can understand the common law notions of evidence, the Federal Rules will be easy to understand.

The purpose of the Federal Rules of Evidence is to ensure impartiality in the administration of trials; eliminate unjustifiable expense and delay; and promote the growth and development of the law of evidence so that the truth can be determined and procedures fairly determined. As a former trial attorney and current law school professor who teaches the rules of evidence to students, I view the Federal Rules of Evidence, adopted by Congress in 1975, as a masterpiece of putting the old common law wine in a bottle. new. I have used the Federal Rules of Evidence throughout my career.

This article is not about any specific rule(s) of common law that may have been put into the new bottle known as the Federal Rule of Evidence. Instead, I write this to show how influential and widespread the use of rules has been. Forty-four states, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the military have adopted all or part of the Federal Rules for use in their court systems. This is a very good trend because most states’ rules of evidence will be roughly the same throughout the United States.

The following paragraphs provide essential information about jurisdictions that have adopted rules of evidence modeled on the Federal Rules. They include information about the date the local rules went into effect and when they were changed, if at all:

ALABAMA. Adopted by the Alabama Supreme Court effective January 1, 1996. No amendments.

ALASKA. Adopted by the Alaska Supreme Court effective August 1, 1979. Last modified October 15, 2003.

ARIZONA. Adopted by the Arizona Supreme Court effective September 1, 1977. Last modified June 1, 2004.

ARKANSAS. Adopted by the Arkansas Supreme Court effective October 13, 1986. Last amended January 22, 1998.

COLORADO. Adopted by the Colorado Supreme Court effective January 1, 1980. Last amended July 1, 2002.

CONNECTICUT. Adopted by the judges of the Superior Court of Connecticut effective January 1, 2000. No amendments.

DELAWARE. Adopted by the Delaware Supreme Court effective February 1, 1980. Last amended December 10, 2001.

FLORIDA. The Florida Evidence Code was enacted by the Florida Legislature effective July 1, 1979. Last amended July 1, 2003.

GEORGIA. Governor Nathan Deal signed a House bill that made the Georgia rules effective January 1, 2013. No amendments.

GUAM. Adopted by the Guam Judicial Council effective November 16, 1979. Last amended July 18, 2003.

HAWAII. Enacted by the Hawaii Legislature effective January 1, 1981. No amendments.

IDAHO. Adopted by the Idaho Supreme Court effective July 1, 1985. No amendments.

ILLINOIS. Adopted by the Illinois Supreme Court effective January 1, 2011. No amendments.

INDIANA. Adopted by the Indiana Supreme Court effective January 1, 1994. Last amended January 1, 2004.

IOWA. Adopted by the Iowa Supreme Court effective July 1, 1983. Last modified February 15, 2002.

KENTUCKY. Enacted by the Kentucky Legislature effective July 1, 1992. Last modified July 1, 2003.

LOUISIANA. Enacted by the Louisiana Legislature effective January 1, 1989. Last modified August 15, 2003.

MAINE. Adopted by the Maine Supreme Judicial Court effective February 2, 1976. Last amended July 1, 2002.

MARYLAND. Adopted by the Maryland Court of Appeals effective July 1, 1994. Last modified January 1, 2004.

MICHIGAN. Adopted by the Michigan Supreme Court effective March 1, 1978. Last amended January 1, 2004.

MINNESOTA. Adopted by the Minnesota Supreme Court effective April 1, 1977. Last amended January 1, 1990.

MISSISSIPPI. Adopted by the Mississippi Supreme Court effective January 1, 1986. Last modified May 27, 2004.

MOUNTAIN. Adopted by the Montana Supreme Court effective July 1, 1977. Last modified October 18, 1990.

NEBRASKA. Enacted by the Nebraska Legislature effective December 31, 1975. Last modified July 13, 2000.

NEVADA. Enacted by the Nevada Legislature effective July 1, 2004. No amendments.

NEW HAMPSHIRE. Adopted by the New Hampshire Supreme Court effective July 1, 1985. Last amended January 1, 2003.

NEW JERSEY. Adopted by the New Jersey Supreme Court and the New Jersey Legislature through a joint procedure effective July 1, 1993. Last amended July 1, 1993.

NEW MEXICO. Adopted by the New Mexico Supreme Court effective July 1, 1973. Last amendment effective February 1, 2003.

NORTH CAROLINA. Enacted by the North Carolina Legislature effective July 1, 1984. Last modified October 1, 2003.

NORTH DAKOTA. Adopted by the North Dakota Supreme Court effective February 15, 1977. Last amended March 1, 2001.

OHIO. Adopted by the Ohio Supreme Court effective July 1, 1980. Last modified July 1, 2003.

OKLAHOMA. Enacted by the Oklahoma Legislature effective October 1, 1978. Last modified November 1, 2003.

OREGON. Enacted by the Oregon Legislature effective January 1, 1982. Last modified July 3, 2003.

PENNSYLVANIA. Adopted by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court effective October 1, 1998. Last amended January 1, 2002.

PUERTO RICO. Enacted by the Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico as of October 1, 1979. Last amended August 30, 1999.

RHODE ISLAND. Adopted by the Rhode Island Supreme Court effective October 1, 1987. No amendments.

SOUTH CAROLINA. Enacted by the South Carolina Legislature effective September 3, 1995. No amendments.

SOUTH DAKOTA. Enacted by the South Dakota Legislature effective July 1, 1978. No amendments.

TENNESSEE. Adopted by the Tennessee Supreme Court effective January 1, 1990. Last amended July 1, 2003.

TEXAS. Adopted by the Texas Supreme Court effective March 1, 1998. No amendments.

UTAH. Adopted by the Utah Supreme Court effective September 1, 1983. Last amended November 1, 2004.

VERMONT. Adopted by the Vermont Supreme Court effective April 1, 1983. Last modified May 27, 2003.

WASHINGTON. Adopted by the Washington Supreme Court effective April 2, 1979. Last amended September 1, 2003.

WEST VIRGINIA. Adopted by the West Virginia Supreme Court effective February 1, 1985. Last amended January 1, 1995.

WISCONSIN. Adopted by the Wisconsin Supreme Court effective January 1, 1974. Last modified March 30, 2004.

WYOMING. Adopted by the Wyoming Supreme Court effective January 1, 1978. Last modified February 28, 1995.

THE MILITARY. The Military Rules of Evidence were adopted by Executive Decree No. 12,198 of March 12, 1980. Last reformed by Executive Decree No. 13,262 of April 11, 2002.

THE FREE STATE OF THE NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS. No adoption date found.

THE VIRGIN ISLANDS OF THE UNITED STATES. No adoption date found.

What an impressive list of adoptions and promulgations following the pattern of the Federal Rules of Evidence! Several jurisdictions have not adopted rules of evidence based on the Federal Rules of Evidence. They are: California, the District of Columbia, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, and Virginia.

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