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Understanding the Basics: Rules of Evidence in Wisconsin Courts

Posted by Nathan DeLadurantey | Feb 19, 2024

Navigating the legal landscape can be daunting, especially when it comes to understanding the rules of evidence. In Wisconsin, as in many other jurisdictions, these rules form the backbone of courtroom proceedings, ensuring fairness, reliability, and justice. Whether you're a law student, legal professional, or simply curious about the legal system, gaining a grasp of the basics of evidence rules is essential. In this blog post, we'll delve into the fundamental principles governing evidence in Wisconsin courts.

  1. Relevance: Evidence admitted in Wisconsin courts must be relevant to the case at hand. According to Wisconsin's Rules of Evidence, relevant evidence is defined as evidence having any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence. In simpler terms, evidence should directly relate to the issues being litigated.

  2. Hearsay: Hearsay is a statement made outside of court, offered in court as evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted. In Wisconsin, hearsay is generally not admissible unless it falls within one of the recognized exceptions. These exceptions include statements made for medical diagnosis or treatment, present sense impressions, excited utterances, and statements against interest, among others.

  3. Authentication: Authentication is the process of establishing the genuineness of evidence. In Wisconsin, this means showing that the evidence is what it purports to be. For example, if a party seeks to introduce a document, they must provide sufficient evidence to demonstrate its authenticity, such as testimony from a witness familiar with the document's creation or a chain of custody.

  4. Best Evidence Rule: The Best Evidence Rule in Wisconsin, as in other jurisdictions, dictates that when proving the content of a writing, recording, or photograph, the original is generally required unless certain exceptions apply. Copies or duplicates may be admitted if the original is unavailable, lost, or destroyed, provided that the copy accurately reflects the original.

  5. Privileges: Privileges protect certain communications from disclosure in court. In Wisconsin, common privileges include attorney-client privilege, doctor-patient privilege, and spousal privilege. These privileges promote open communication within specific relationships and are crucial for maintaining trust and confidentiality.

  6. Character Evidence: Character evidence refers to evidence of a person's character or trait of character offered to prove conduct in conformity therewith. In Wisconsin, character evidence is generally inadmissible to prove propensity, but it may be admissible for other purposes, such as impeachment or when the character of a party is directly at issue in the case.

Conclusion: Understanding the rules of evidence is essential for anyone involved in the legal process. In Wisconsin courts, adherence to these rules ensures the fair and just resolution of disputes. By grasping the basics of evidence law, individuals can better navigate legal proceedings and contribute to the pursuit of truth and justice. Whether you're a litigant, attorney, or observer, knowledge of evidence rules is a valuable tool in the pursuit of legal rights and remedies.

Attorney Nathan DeLadurantey offers free consultations to explain your legal rights in Wisconsin. Free consultations can be scheduled online. 

About the Author

Nathan DeLadurantey

Nathan DeLadurantey ATTORNEY [email protected] Nathan is a skilled consumer lawyer who handles cases and trials all over Wisconsin. Phone consultations are always free and welcomed. Nathan has helped clients receive large jury verdicts and settlements stemming from consumer law violations, and is ready and able to assist.


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