Oct. 16, 2019 – You’re questioning a witness at trial, and opposing counsel objects that a question you’ve asked is not relevant to the case.
You avoid breaking out in a nervous sweat, because you can respond with confidence – you anticipated the objection and had a well-prepared answer, with relevant case law, thanks to The Wisconsin Rules of Evidence: A Courtroom Handbook from State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE®, newly updated for 2019-20.
Hone in on the Most Pertinent Issues
Say, for example, you’re representing a defendant in a homicide case in which the prosecution seeks to introduce portions of testimony that the defendant gave during a John Doe proceeding.
Might the evidence constitute hearsay, and how strong are any Confrontation Clause arguments you might make against admission of the testimony at the defendant’s trial?
First, you use the finding tools in the Evidence Handbook – a unique topical guide and a set of top tabs identifying the major subject headings in the rules of evidence. Next, you explore the Handbook’s tables of cases (including one listing only the Crawford v. Washington1 line of Confrontation Clause cases discussed in the book). Locating the book’s chapters on hearsay, you find succinct discussions of a 2019 case in which the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled on similar issues.2
You can quickly compare that case with your client’s, and assess the possible bases for objecting to the evidence.
Locate the Latest Case Law
In a separate criminal case, the prosecution wishes to introduce evidence of a letter your client wrote where she admits to an unrelated crime. In the Evidence Handbook, you turn to the cases that discuss the evidentiary rule on “other crimes … or acts.”3
You discover that the Wisconsin Supreme Court recently upheld the circuit court’s admission of such a letter.4 But in that case, the Supreme Court noted that the letter was offered with a permissible purpose – to rebut the defendant’s claimed lack of memory with respect to the crime being tried. If your client’s case involves different facts, you might be able to distinguish it and argue against the admission of such evidence.
For the 2019-20 supplement, the Handbook’s authors – Michael J. Brose of New Richmond, Hon. John Markson (reserve judge) of Madison, and Attorney Liesl Nelson of Hudson – have identified and annotated these and other significant evidence-related cases decided since publication of the 2018-19 supplement, so that you can stay on top of the latest developments and be ready for trial.
How to Order
The Wisconsin Rules of Evidence: A Courtroom Handbook is available both in print and online via Books UnBound®, the State Bar of Wisconsin’s interactive online library. The print book costs $235 for members and $295 for nonmembers.
Annual subscriptions to Books UnBound®, the State Bar’s interactive online library, start at $175 per title and $869 for the full library (single-user prices; call for law-firm pricing).
For more information or to place an order, visit the WisBar Marketplace or call the State Bar at (800) 728-7788 or (608) 257-3838.
1 541 U.S. 36 (2004).
2 State v. Hanson, 2019 WI 63, 387 Wis. 2d 233 , 928 N.W.2d 607.
3 Wis. Stat. § 904.04(2).
4 State v. Reinwand, 2019 WI 25, 385 Wis. 2d 700, 924 N.W.2d 184.