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Survey Article


The 2015 term of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit included precedential opinions on a variety of important evidentiary issues. Several Eleventh Circuit cases, as well as a key decision from the United States Supreme Court, further explored the contours of the Confrontation Clause. The Eleventh Circuit also considered a number of cases regarding the admissibility of expert testimony at trial. These cases seem to continue the Eleventh Circuit's recent trend of applying greater scrutiny to lower court decisions excluding expert evidence, while applying a more deferential standard when the lower court allowed expert evidence.

Also noteworthy were two published Eleventh Circuit opinions concerning the relevance and prejudicial effect of "bad act" evidence. In one case involving charges of identity theft and filing false tax returns, the court affirmed the admission of the defendant's other acts of fraud. In the other, the court held that evidence of the defendants' memberships in white supremacist gangs was not unfairly prejudicial where this evidence was relevant to criminal intent. Finally, the court provided useful guidance on the application of the residual exception to the hearsay rule, stressing that this exception should only be used in "exceptional circumstances." This Evidence Survey describes all of these rulings to provide practitioners with a concise overview of how the law of evidence evolved in the Eleventh Circuit during 2015.

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