Challenging Evidence Admissibility in Appeals
Explore the intricate process of challenging evidence admissibility in appeals with Strickland Webster, LLC. Gain valuable insights and strategies for your appellate case.
Understanding Evidence Admissibility in Trials
In a trial court, complex rules, known collectively as the “rules of evidence,” determine whether evidence is admissible. Judges follow the Federal Rules of Evidence to decide what evidence can be used in federal courts. Each state also has its own rules for evidence, usually similar to the federal regulations.
The following are some of the key concepts that shape the admissibility of evidence in civil and criminal cases:
Relevance: Evidence must make a fact more or less probable in the case. Irrelevant evidence is inadmissible.
Materiality: The evidence must relate to a critical fact to resolve the case issues. Immaterial evidence is excluded.
Competence and Personal Knowledge: Witnesses must know firsthand what they testify about. Hearsay from someone without direct knowledge is often inadmissible.
Authentication: Evidence, such as documents, must be shown to be genuine, authentic, and accurate before admission.
Best Evidence Rule: Judges prefer original evidence instead of copies or descriptions.
Hearsay Evidence Rule: Secondhand statements made outside court are often considered unreliable and barred.
Privileges: Communications under legal privileges, like with doctors or attorneys, are protected from disclosure.
Exclusionary Rule: Illegally obtained evidence may be deemed inadmissible to deter violations.
Expert Testimony: Expert opinions must be derived from sufficient facts/data and reliable methodology.
Character Evidence: Evidence speaking only to someone’s personality is often considered excessively prejudicial.
The Appeal Process: A Step-by-Step Guide
If you believe your case has been prejudiced by unlawfully admitted evidence, you have 30 days to file an appeal with the Georgia Court of Appeals after the trial court’s ruling. Here’s a step-by-step guide to the process:
Identifying Grounds for Appeal
Your appeals attorney must carefully identify the reversible errors that occurred at the trial court level. These errors are the grounds for your appeal, and your brief will focus on demonstrating how these errors affected the case outcome. Your appeal can be based on evidentiary errors, such as evidence admissibility and others.
Filing the Notice of Appeal
File a notice of appeal with the trial court, informing them of your intention to appeal a court ruling. This notice must be filed within 30 days of the entry of judgment day.
Drafting and Filing an Appellate Brief
Your lawyer will draft an appellate brief detailing the grounds for your appeal and the supporting facts and laws. Your brief must be filed within 20 days of the Appeals Court receiving the lower court’s trial transcript. The appellee, usually the government in criminal cases, has the right to file a response within 20 days.
Oral Arguments (Optional)
In some cases, the appellate court may allow oral arguments. Oral arguments enable the parties to present their arguments in person to the appellate judges and answer questions. While not always required, oral arguments can be a valuable opportunity to clarify complex legal arguments.
Decision by Appellate Court
After reviewing the appellate briefs and oral arguments, the court will issue a decision. The court will either affirm the trial court’s ruling, reverse it, or remand the case to the trial court for further proceedings.