Virginia Codifies Rules of Evidence

This Session, Delegate Manoli Loupasi (R–Richmond) and I were selected to implement a project putting all the rules of evidence into the Code of Virginia. Both of us try cases every day in our Virginia Courts, so we eagerly accepted the task. (Note: Rules of Evidence are the rules developed over hundreds of years of court cases, which allow or disallow evidence. For example, you may be familiar with the rule of relevance, which says that evidence not relating to the matter in controversy – some fact that will not make something more or less likely – cannot be admitted.)

In order to make sense of thousands of different cases interpreting what evidence is admissible and how certain evidence can be admitted, a study was begun over 15 years ago. A group of law professors, judges and practicing attorneys met over this time and developed a consensus over the proper text for each rule. This was a controversial and pain-staking task because cases are literally won or lost on what evidence is admitted. Therefore, this project to write down each rule and put them in one place may be the most significant law passed in a generation.

The rules will be printed by the Supreme Court and become effective on July 1st. All attorneys will have to become familiar with these rules immediately.

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