Admitting Evidence
The rules of civil procedure allow the attorneys to discover any information that may lead to admissible evidence. Some time before, or at the start of trial, the court will begin the process of reviewing the evidence that the attorneys plan to submit and determining, what, if any, of it is admissible. The rules for admissibility are much stricter for evidence in criminal cases because of the constitutional protections for the defendant. The outcome of many criminal cases is decided by the judge’s rulings on which evidence is admissible. For example, the judge may exclude a confession or a murder weapon because it was obtained improperly. Although the constitutional issues of improper search and self-incrimination are not a problem in civil trials, witnesses and other evidence may still be excluded if it is unduly prejudicial or if it does not meet the legal standards for credibility. Once evidence has been admitted, it is subject to cross- examination.