Illinois Supreme Court Codifies Rules of Evidence

Illinois Supreme Court Codifies Rules of Evidence

In November of 2008, the Illinois Supreme Court mandated “codifying the law of evidence in the state of Illinois” in an effort to streamline and improve the trial process. Effective January 1, 2011, these rules “will substantially increase the efficiency of the trial process as well as expedite the resolution of cases on trial for the benefit of the practicing bar, the judiciary, and the litigants involved.” The list of rules can be found in its entirety here . However, Rule 901 and 902, covering the authentication of evidence, are especially interesting.

Rule 901, Requirement of Authentication or Identification, mandates “authentication or identification as a condition precedent to admissibility.” According to the rule, acceptable verification may be illustrated by:

1)      Testimony of Witness With Knowledge

2)      Nonexpert Opinion on Handwriting

3)      Comparison by Trier or Expert Witness

4)      Distinctive Characteristics and the Like

5)      Voice Identification

6)      Telephone Conversations

7)      Public Records or Reports

8)      Ancient Documents or Data Compilation

9)      Process or System

10)   Methods Provided by Statute or Rule

Rule 902, Self-Authentication, outlines that which does not require “authenticity as a condition precedent to admissibility.” Self-Authentication is acceptable for:

1)      Domestic Public Documents Under Seal

2)      Domestic Public Documents Not Under Seal

3)      Foreign Public Documents

4)      Certified Copies of Public Records

5)      Official Publications

6)      Newspapers and Periodicals

7)      Trade Inscriptions and the Like

8)      Acknowledged Documents

9)      Commercial Paper and Related Documents

10)   Presumptions Under Statutes

11)   Certified Records of Regularly Conducted Activity

As January 1, 2011 quickly approaches, it will be interesting to see how these rules will affect trial proceedings in Illinois.

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