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Criminal Justice Magazine
Spring 2002
Volume 17 Issue 1

Rules Committee Takes Position on Patriot Act, Hearsay Evidence

The members of the Section’s Rules of Criminal Procedure and Evidence Committee met on January 5, 2002, and adopted two resolutions to present to the Criminal Justice Section Council at the spring meeting in New Orleans, April 19–21.

Members of the committee were concerned about recent trends indicating a willingness to jettison the rules of evidence in the name of national security. The example discussed was the provision 316 of the Patriot Act recently signed into law in October 2001. This section pertains only to forfeiture actions and reads:

(B) EVIDENCE. In considering a claim filed under this section, a court may admit evidence that is otherwise inadmissible under the Federal Rules of Evidence, if the court determines that the evidence is reliable, and that compliance with the Federal Rules of Evidence may jeopardize the national security interests of the United States.

In an effort to forestall other efforts in this direction, the committee voted to recommend that the Criminal Justice Council ask the ABA House of Delegates to adopt the following position as ABA policy:

The United States Government should adjudicate the guilt or innocence of any individual only under the Federal Rules of Evidence or the Military Rules of Evidence.

Comments concerning this position should be addressed to the chair of the committee, Professor Elizabeth Phillips Marsh, Quinnipiac University School of Law, 275 Mount Carmel Avenue, Hamden, CT 06518; elizabeth.marsh@ quinnipiac.edu.

In addition, the Rules Committee voted to recommend that the Criminal Justice Council ask the House of Delegates to adopt an ABA policy urging that the Federal Rules of Evidence be amended to include a hearsay exception for child testimony. Any comments should be addressed to Professor Bruce Comly French, Ohio Northern University, Claude W. Pettit College of Law, 525 South Main Street, Ada, OH 45810–1599; b-french@onu.edu.

 


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