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Congratulations Illinois Attorneys: It’s Officially Easier to Figure Out Admissible Evidence

Yes, it’s true. The Illinois Supreme Court has (finally) officially approved its Rules of Evidence.

I remember my first encounter with the Illinois Rules of Evidence. Although I practice in Illinois, most of my legal education was in Florida. Overall, where you get your legal education doesn’t matter, but when I moved here, I just thought all states have their own state rules of procedure and evidence. Then when I was practicing here, one of my colleagues broke the news to me. I was crushed. Apparently, here in Illinois, you have to search case law to determine what it is acceptable in the realm of evidence.

But no more! Now Illinois has its own Rules of Evidence. As of January 1, 2011, when the Rules go into effect, our lives will be that much easier. (ps: good for clients too because it means less research for us = less cost to clients ? )

Major changes include:

  • Revising Rule 101 to clarify that the rules do not intend to abrogate or supercede any existing statutory rules of evidence;
  • Temporarily reserving Rule 407 which dealt with remedial measures taken in product liability cases until the Supreme Court rules on a pending case, Jablonski v. Ford Motor Co.
  • Revising Rule 702 to affirm that Illinois remains a state adhering to the core principles of the Frye test for admissibility of scientific evidence as set forth in Donaldson v. Central Illinois Public Service Co., 199 Ill. 2nd 63 (2002).
  • Reserving Rule 803(18), which as originally drafted would have created a hearsay exception for learned treatises in accordance with the Federal Rules of Evidence.
  • Revising Rule 801(d)(1)(A) to omit a proposed change to Illinois law which would have provided for substantive admissibility of prior inconsistent statements in civil proceedings.

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