2010 Edition of Mass. Evidence Guide Now Online

The Supreme Judicial Court has posted the 2010 edition of the Massachusetts Guide to Evidence. In the absence of formal rules of evidence in Mass., this is the closest the state comes to a document akin to the Federal Rules of Evidence.

The guide is compiled by a committee appointed by the SJC and given the task of assembling “the current law in one easily usable document, along the lines of the Federal Rules of Evidence.” It is derived from the constitution, statutes, common law and rules of court.

This new edition reflects changes in evidence law between Oct. 1, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2009. It also adds four new sections on unemployment hearing privilege, inadequate police investigation evidence, access to third-party records prior to trial in criminal cases, and view.

The introduction emphasizes that this is only a guide and not an authoritative statement of rules. “What the Committee has written are not rules, but rather, as the title suggests, a guide to evidence based on the law as it exists today. … Ultimately, the law of evidence in Massachusetts is what is contained in the authoritative decisions of the Supreme Judicial Court and of the Appeals Court, and the statutes duly enacted by the Legislature.”

The guide is also available in a 479-page print edition from the Flaschner Judicial Institute (via Lawyers Weekly) for $69. Every judge in the state receives a complimentary copy.