Thursday, March 3, 2011

Summary Evidence

In the recent case of United States v. Whitfield, 590 F.3d 325 (5th Cir. Dec. 11, 2009)(No. 07-60748) it was found that where records records were voluminous and inconvenient to use if not summarized the summary of these documents could be permissible so long as this summary is not simply allowing the Government to repeat its entire case-in-chief shortly before jury deliberations.

To use the word voluminous to refer to the amount of paper involved in any case involving transactions over a period of time is usually understatement. When I worked as a runner at a large Defense firm there was an empty office that was once called the "War Room" but was buried under boxes when the firm picked up a large corporate transactions case. There were probably 60 bankers boxes filled with discovery all of which had to be sifted through to prove damages in the case.

Federal Rules of Evidence Rule 1006. Summaries

The contents of voluminous writings, recordings, or photographs which cannot conveniently be examined in court may be presented in the form of a chart, summary, or calculation. The originals, or duplicates, shall be made available for examination or copying, or both, by other parties at reasonable time and place. The court may order that they be produced in court.

The Court is right to add the repetition component to the rule because if it were not a consideration either side would be able to present evidence, summarize it, present more evidence, summarize it, then summarize both together before arguing their entire case in closing arguments. The rule will save time for the court and may prevent an unfair advantage from being obtained.

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