The Best Of Everything: Fourth Circuit Erroneously Finds That Best Evidence Rule Doesn’t Apply In Firearms Appeal
Federal Rule of Evidence 1002, the Best Evidence or Original Document Rule, indicates that
To prove the content of a writing, recording, or photograph, the original writing, recording, or photograph is required, except as otherwise provided in these rules or by Act of Congress.
As I tell my Evidence students, this Rule is oft misunderstood, not only by law students, but also by lawyers and even judges. The recent opinion of the Fourth Circuit in United States v. Smith, 2009 WL 1452045 (4th Cir. 2009), is a good example of judges completely misunderstanding the Best Evidence Rule.
From Prof. Colin Miller, 14 June 2009.