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Sample text from the form #trial5210 Evidence Objections Checklist.

The following sample is the checklist's concise discussion on the objection of "Completeness."

Completeness

"OBJECTION: Your Honor, we object to counsel only introducing part of the writing (conversation/act/declaration). Under the evidence rule providing for completeness and fairness, we move to introduce additional parts now.

DISCUSSION:

"When a writing or recorded statement or part thereof is introduced by a party, an adverse party may require the introduction at that time of any other part or any other writing or recorded statement which ought in fairness to be considered contemporaneously with it." Fed. Rules Evid., Rule 106. [Emphasis supplied.]

Federal Evidence Rule 106 is an expression of what Wigmore termed "the rules of completeness." VII Wigmore on Evidence 2094, et seq. (3d ed. 1940). The rule is based on two considerations:

  • The misleading impression created by taking matters out of context; and
  • The inadequacy of repairing an adverse jury impression if delayed to a point later in the trial.

See McCormick on Evidence 56.

Many states have rules similar to the federal Rule 106. The longer Texas rule is given below for an example of state rules.

"When part of an act, declaration, conversation, writing or recorded statement is given in evidence by one party, the whole on the same subject may be inquired into by the other, and any other act, declaration, writing or recorded statement which is necessary to make it fully understood or to explain the same may also be given in evidence, as when a letter is read, all letters on the same subject between the same parties may be given. Writing or recorded statement includes depositions." Texas Rules Evid., Rule 107.

The Texas rule is a good example of how federal and state rules differ. Notice the federal rule is limited to writings and recorded statements and does not apply to conversations; the Texas rule, given as an example above, goes on to add physical acts, oral declarations by one person, and conversations. Cf., Minnesota Rules Evid., Rule 107, Comment ("The rule is not intended to apply to conversations.") The Texas rule adds provisions that prevents arguments (which you might want to make in other states) about, e.g, whether a deposition is a writing or recorded statement or something else instead; or, e.g,., whether a letter 10 years earlier, written by the opposite party to the correspondence can be introduced simply because it is on the same subject.

The federal rule, but not all state rules, makes it mandatory for the trial court to allow objecting counsel to put their portions into evidence at the same time. The federal rule of completeness allows you to interrupt the adversary's presentation of evidence and introduce part of your own. In practice, this rule of completeness arises most often when an opposing attorney reads part of a deposition into evidence, or introduces only portions of a document.

The rule of completeness does not in any way require you to introduce the other portions when your opposition does; instead you may chose to develop the matter on cross-examination or as part of your own case, which may well be preferable.

RESPONSE: Your Honor, perhaps we should discuss the relevance of additional material and the time for it at sidebar with the court.

The full form checklist and text is 25 pages long.

Return to the page on the full form, for information on the Workhorse Two Dozen

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