August 14, 2018 § 5 Comments
It was back in 2012 that I reported the death of Evidence as a required course at both the Ole Miss and MC law schools. You can re-visit that post at this link, if you care to.
Among my several points bewailing that Evidence was no longer a required course was this:
I shiver at the thought of lawyers setting foot in my court room who have no grasp of the nuances of the best evidence rule, parol evidence, hearsay, or even how to get a document into evidence. I shiver for myself and for their poor clients. Some point out that the MRE is so much easier to understand and apply than the old mix of statutes and case law. True. But having a set of rules and understanding them enough to use them properly and effectively are entirely different things. Rules only take you so far. There are cases interpreting those rules that one must learn about. And the rules are neither crystal clear nor do they address everything one needs to know. Cite me a rule, for example, on what objection applies in any given situation. Or tell me how MRE 803(3) pertaining to wills applies in a will contest? Or when does past recollection recorded apply instead of refreshed recollection, and vice versa? Some elucidation is required for even the most astute student.
Well, the worm has, so to speak, turned. In her address to the Ole Miss law alumni at the Mississippi Bar Convention last month, Dean Susan Duncan reported that Evidence is returning to the OM Law curriculum as a required course. A legislator with whom I visited told me that MC Law is following the same path.
I would not want to take my ailments to a doctor who has not studied Human Anatomy. Evidence is the Human Anatomy of the legal profession.
I had heard that Vandy didn’t require Evidence, but I hadn’t realized UM had become so fashionable.
There certainly are areas where it may not be necessary (transactional work for ex), but as a lawyer, I would feel kinda bad watching movie lawyers say “objection, Your Honor” and not know what they were doing.
One of the arguments for elimination was that there are many law students who are planning to graduate into transactional and corporate work. I still say that a grasp of evidence is important in that kind of work also. It’s important to know how your documents will work when they wind up in the courtroom, as well as how to advise your client re how to keep corporate secrets out of the line of fire in discovery.
As for “fashionable”-ity, both UM and MCLaw went down that path. Some fashions just look downright silly. Like this one.
A trial conducted by a lawyer who doesn’t know evidence is a disaster.
I cannot believe they ever stopped. Evidence is my pet subject and it is an intricate one!