May 08, 2012 Articles

Evidentiary Challenges to Documents for Trial

The foundation for an evidentiary challenge begins with an understanding of the documents that are likely to be introduced at trial.

By Zachary G. Newman and Anthony Ellis

With trials becoming increasingly rare, trial advocacy skills routinely need to be sharpened. While trial advocacy and continuing legal education classes can be valuable, one area of trial practice in which lawyers should constantly refresh themselves is analyzing documents for admissibility and other evidentiary pitfalls and objections.

Many lawyers seem to overlook the importance of addressing evidentiary issues from the outset of the case and miss opportunities during pretrial proceedings to lay the groundwork for or build defenses against documentary evidence well in advance of trial. At trial, information needs to be processed in real time, and objections must be assessed in split seconds. A key objection could prove critical to the case, and a misplaced objection could result in embarrassment before the jury or an admission of a weakness.

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