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.

Evidence admissibility Errors on Appeal

The admissibility of evidence plays a vital role in legal proceedings, as it impacts whether a trial is fair. Excluding relevant evidence can limit a party’s ability to receive justice. As such, evidence admissibility errors are common grounds for appeals.

Appealing a court judgment based on unlawfully admitted evidence requires the help of an experienced appeal lawyer. Strickland Webster, LLC has extensive knowledge in this area. Whether it’s a civil case or a criminal case, we can help you seek justice through an appeal.

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.

Preservation of Objections

Federal as well as state law, specifically OCGA § 24-1-103, requires a party who believes that certain evidence is inadmissible for legal reasons to raise a timely objection. Failure to object waives the right to challenge the admissibility of the evidence on appeal.

In other words, if your trial attorney doesn’t raise objections to otherwise inadmissible evidence during the trial, you might lose the chance to bring them up later on appeal.

Preserving the Issue for Appeal

To preserve the issue of admissibility for appeal, the objection must be made:

  • Timely: The objection must be made before the evidence is admitted or the opportunity to object has passed.

  • Specific: The objection must identify the basis for the objection, such as the rule of evidence that is being violated.

  • Directed to the court: The objection must be directed to the trial court, either orally or in writing.

Plain Error Exception

There is a narrow exception to the objection requirement known as the plain error exception. Under this exception, an appellate court may review an error even if it was not preserved at trial if the error is so obvious that it affects the fairness of the trial. However, the plain error exception is rarely applied and only applies in cases of extreme error.

Standard of Review of Appeal Based on Evidentiary Errors

Appellate courts typically use different legal standards of review, depending on the ground for appeal. Legal standards of review refer to the criteria or guidelines that appellate courts use when evaluating the decisions of lower courts or administrative agencies.

Appeals challenging the admissibility of evidence admitted at a lower court are often reviewed using the abuse of discretion standard. This standard is used for discretionary rulings made by the trial court, such as admitting or excluding evidence. In abuse of discretion review, the appellate court will overturn the trial court’s ruling if it is arbitrary or unsupported by the evidence.

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.

Strickland Webster, LLC: Your Geogria Appellate Attorneys

Mistakes happen, and sometimes inadmissible evidence makes its way to the jury or judge and potentially results in a serious miscarriage of justice.

When this occurs, you have the right to file an appeal and seek justice. You also have the right to an experienced and dedicated appellate attorney to guide you through the process and enhance your chances of success. Our seasoned lawyers from Strickland Webster, LLC, can help you.

At Strickland Webster, LLC, we have a proven track record of success in appellate cases. Our attorneys have the experience and knowledge needed to navigate the appellate process smoothly and challenge the admissibility of evidence. We will carefully review the facts of your case and develop a strategy to achieve the best possible outcome.

Contact Strickland Webster, LLC today to schedule a free consultation.