July 18, 2012 Articles

Summaries May Help, but Must Still Meet Rules 611(a), 1006

Parties should not be allowed to enter into evidence case summaries or compilations of evidence tantamount to a written closing statement under the guise of Rule 1006.

By James "Marty" Truss

Virtually every trial would be much easier, quicker, and less expensive if a party could dispense with the formality of offering numerous pieces of evidence through multiple witnesses in favor of a single comprehensive “summary” document compiling only the most salient excerpts from the vast fruits of the discovery process. In this way, the party could present its entire case in a summary fashion through one key witness and, if allowed by the court, use slanted descriptions of the compiled data to present a virtual closing argument from the witness stand. Because the data compiled during discovery in much civil litigation amounts to an unwieldy mass of voluminous writings and other physical evidence, trial lawyers are occasionally tempted to skirt various rules of evidence by disguising written closing arguments or narrative witness scripts as summaries of voluminous materials under Federal Rule of Evidence 1006.

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