The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit's 2014 term featured several interesting opinions addressing the admissibility of evidence. For example, the court tackled two issues of first impression analyzing constitutional rights against the admission of evidence. In one case, the Eleventh Circuit decided whether the Confrontation Clause applies to evidence used by a district court in determining jurisdiction over the offense in a pretrial hearing. In another case, the court developed a rule to determine when an adverse inference jury instruction is warranted after a nonparty invokes its Fifth Amendment right to remain silent in a civil case.
The Eleventh Circuit also issued several noteworthy opinions concerning the admissibility of expert testimony. In one decision, the court reversed the lower court's Daubert ruling after cautioning that federal courts cannot defer to the recommendations of industry groups when determining the admissibility of expert evidence. In two equally interesting cases, the court affirmed the exclusion of expert testimony where the plaintiffs expert failed to adequately explain his methodology or to employ the methodology he allegedly relied upon.
Finally, the Eleventh Circuit published two notable opinions addressing a common evidentiary issue: the balancing of relevance and undue prejudice under Rules 401 and 403 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. One decision discussed the admissibility of alternative causation evidence in a wrongful death case, and the other considered whether a plaintiff in a hostile work environment suit can use evidence of racial harassment against his co-workers that was not directly connected to the plaintiff's supervisor.
Bassett, W. Randall; Leppert, Val; and McCullers, Stephen A.
Mercer Law Review: Vol. 66:
4, Article 6.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.mercer.edu/jour_mlr/vol66/iss4/6