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Guide to Evidence

Guide to Evidence Addendum: Federal rules of evidence comparison chart

Adopted Date: 01/01/2021

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Table of Contents

Article I. General provisions

Massachusetts Section Corresponding Federal Rule Comparison
MGE § 101 FRE 101 Substantially similar. FRE 101(b) contains a definition section that defines various terms used throughout the FRE.
MGE § 102 FRE 102 Differences. FRE 102 states the purposes of the rules. MGE § 102 details the Guide’s status as a summary of the law but not an adopted set of rules.
MGE § 103(a) FRE 103(a) Substantially similar.
MGE § 103(b) FRE 103(b) Substantially similar.
MGE § 103(c) FRE 103(c) Identical.
MGE § 103(d) FRE 103(d) Differences. FRE 103(d) only requires a judge to shield the jury, to the extent practicable, from hearing inadmissible evidence. MGE § 103(d) extends this principle to both the jury and witnesses.
MGE § 103(e) FRE 103(e) Differences. FRE 103(e) states the different, Federal standard for appellate review of unpreserved evidentiary errors.
MGE § 103(f) n/a No corresponding FRE.
MGE § 103(g) n/a No corresponding FRE.
MGE § 104(a) FRE 104(a) Differences. FRE 104(a) does not explicitly require that the court decide a preliminary question about a witness’s competency.
MGE § 104(b) FRE 104(b) Differences. FRE 104(b) does not explicitly authorize a judge to strike conditionally relevant evidence where proof necessary to establish relevancy is not subsequently admitted.
MGE § 104(c) FRE 104(c) Differences. FRE 104(c)(2) additionally mandates a hearing outside of the presence of the jury if a defendant is a witness to a preliminary matter and requests to be heard outside of the presence of the jury. 
MGE § 104(d) FRE 104(d) Differences. FRE 104(d) does not state that a defendant is subject to cross-‌examination on issues affecting credibility if he or she testifies on a preliminary matter. 
MGE § 104(e) FRE 104(e) Substantially similar. 
MGE § 105 FRE 105 Identical.
MGE § 106(a) FRE 106 Differences. FRE 106(a) more broadly protects the right of an adverse party to offer any writing or recorded statement (rather than just the remainder of a writing or recording offered by the proponent) that in fairness ought to be considered at the same time. FRE 106(a) also requires immediate introduction of this evidence compared to MGE § 106(a), which affords the judge discretion to determine when the remainder of a writing or recording will be offered. 
MGE § 106(b) n/a No corresponding FRE.

Article II. Judicial notice

Massachusetts Section Corresponding Federal Rule Comparison
MGE § 201(a) FRE 201(a) Identical.
MGE § 201(b) FRE 201(b) Identical.
MGE § 201(c) FRE 201(c) & (d) Differences. FRE 201 mandates, rather than permits, that judicial notice be taken if requested by a party that supplies the court with the necessary information. Further, FRE 201 contains no prohibition against taking judicial notice of an element of a crime in a criminal trial.
MGE § 201(d) FRE 201(e) Identical.
MGE § 201(e) FRE 201(f) Identical.
MGE § 202(a) n/a No corresponding FRE.
MGE § 202(b) n/a No corresponding FRE.
MGE § 202(c) n/a No corresponding FRE.

Article III. Inferences, prima facie evidence, and presumption

Massachusetts Section Corresponding Federal Rule Comparison
MGE § 301(a) FRE 301 Substantially similar regarding the rule’s limited application to civil cases.
MGE § 301(b) n/a No corresponding FRE.
MGE § 301(c) n/a No corresponding FRE.
MGE § 301(d) FRE 301 Differences. FRE 301 only relates generally to presumptions in civil cases and does not expand on scope, inferences, or prima facie evidence.
MGE § 302(a) n/a No corresponding FRE.
MGE § 302(b) n/a No corresponding FRE.
MGE § 302(c) n/a No corresponding FRE.
MGE § 302(d) FRE 302 Differences. FRE 302 provides that “[i]n a civil case, state law governs the effect of a presumption regarding a claim or defense for which state law supplies the rule of decision.”

 

Article IV. Relevancy and its limits

Massachusetts Section Corresponding Federal Rule Comparison
MGE § 401 FRE 401 Substantially similar.
MGE § 402 FRE 402 Differences. Relevant evidence under FRE 402 is not rendered inadmissible by the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights or the Massachusetts common law of evidence. 
MGE § 403 FRE 403 Identical.
MGE § 404(a) FRE 404(a) Significant differences.
MGE § 404(b) FRE 404(b) Differences. FRE 404(b)(2) contains a notice requirement to the defendant in criminal cases. Further, under the FRE so-called “prior bad acts” evidence is subject to the FRE 403 balancing test, whereas MGE § 404(b) requires exclusion where probative value is simply outweighed by unfair prejudice. 
MGE § 405(a) FRE 405(a) Differences. FRE 405(a) per­mits proof of a person’s character, where admissible, in the form of reputation or opinion, rather than only by reputation.
MGE § 405(b) FRE 405(b) Substantially similar. 
MGE § 405(c) n/a No corresponding FRE.
MGE § 406(a) FRE 406 Differences. FRE 406 permits evidence of a personal habit to prove that on a particular occasion the person acted in accordance with the habit. Further, FRE 406 permits evidence of an “organization’s routine practice” compared to MGE § 406(a), which is limited to “a business organization or of one acting in a business capacity . . . .” 
MGE § 406(b) FRE 406 No corresponding FRE. Sub­section (b) of MGE § 406 is included, in part, to highlight the difference between Massachusetts and Federal evi­dence law regarding evidence of personal habit.
MGE § 407(a) FRE 407 Differences. FRE 407 additionally prohibits proof of subsequent remedial measures to prove product defects, design defects, or the need for a warning or instruction.
MGE § 407(b) FRE 407 Substantially similar.
MGE § 408(a) FRE 408(a) Differences. FRE 408(a) prohibits the use of compromise offers and negotiations to impeach a witness by prior inconsistent statement or contradiction. FRE 408(a)(2) contains an exception that allows the use of compromise offers and negotiations in a criminal case if the negotiations related to a claim by a public office in the exercise of its regulatory, investigative, or enforcement authority.
MGE § 408(b) FRE 408(b) Substantially similar. FRE 408(b) does not explicitly state that evidence of compromise offers and ne­go­tiations may be used to prove a witness’s “other state of mind,” as included in MGE § 408(b), but the list of permitted uses is open-ended.
MGE § 409(a) n/a No corresponding FRE.
MGE § 409(b) FRE 409 Identical. 
MGE § 409(c) n/a No corresponding FRE.
MGE § 410(a) FRE 410(a) Significant differences. 
MGE § 410(b) FRE 410(b) Significant differences. 
MGE § 411 FRE 411 Identical. 
MGE § 412(a) FRE 412(a) Substantially similar. FRE 412(a)(2) references a victim’s sexual predisposition rather than a victim’s sexual reputation. 
MGE § 412(b) FRE 412(b) Differences. FRE 412(b)(1)(B) allows evidence of a victim’s prior sexual conduct with the defen­dant only to prove consent. 
MGE § 412(c) FRE 412(c) Differences. FRE 412(c) provides different and more detailed notice/procedural requirements that must be followed for evidence of a victim’s sexual conduct to be offered and admitted. 
MGE § 412(d) FRE 412(d) Identical. 
MGE § 413 n/a No corresponding FRE. FRE 413 does not address the doctrine of first complaint. Instead, it addresses the admission of evidence of similar crimes in sexual-‌assault cases.
MGE § 414 n/a No corresponding FRE. FRE 414 does not address the admission of industry and safety standards. Instead, it addresses the admission of evidence of similar crimes in child molestation cases.

Article V. Privileges and disqualifications

Massachusetts Section Corresponding Federal Rule Comparison
MGE § 501 FRE 501 The FRE contain no enumerated list of privileges, but encourages courts to continue to apply common law privileges in light of reason and experience.
MGE § 502 FRE 502 Significant differences.
MGE §§ 503–528 n/a No corresponding FREs.

Article VI. Witnesses

Massachusetts Section Corresponding Federal Rule Comparison
MGE § 601(a) FRE 601 Differences. FRE 601 further provides that in a civil case, State law governs the witness’s competency regarding a claim or defense for which State law supplies the rule of decision.
MGE § 601(b) n/a No corresponding FRE.
MGE § 601(c) n/a No corresponding FRE.
MGE § 602 FRE 602 Identical.
MGE § 603 FRE 603 Identical.
MGE § 604 FRE 604 Identical.
MGE § 605 FRE 605 Differences. FRE 605 provides that a party need not object to preserve the issue.
MGE § 606(a) FRE 606(a) Identical.
MGE § 606(b) FRE 606(b) Substantially similar. FRE 606(b)(2)(C) additionally provides that a juror may testify about whether a mistake was made in entering the verdict on the verdict form.
MGE § 607 FRE 607 Differences. FRE 607 does not limit the impeachment methods that may be used by the proponent of a witness.
MGE § 608(a) FRE 608(a) Differences. FRE 608(a) allows the use of opinion evidence.
MGE § 608(b) FRE 608(b) Significant differences.
MGE § 609(a) FRE 609(a) Significant differences.
MGE § 609(b) n/a No corresponding FRE.
MGE § 610 FRE 610 Identical.
MGE § 611(a) FRE 611(a) Substantially similar.
MGE § 611(b) FRE 611(b) Significant differences. These include that FRE 611(b) limits the scope of cross-‌examination to the scope of the direct and matters affecting the witness’s credibility.
MGE § 611(c) FRE 611(c) Substantially similar. FRE 611(c) does not refer to investigators appointed under State law.
MGE § 611(d) n/a No corresponding FRE.
MGE § 611(e) n/a No corresponding FRE.
MGE § 611(f) n/a No corresponding FRE.
MGE § 611(g) n/a No corresponding FRE.
MGE § 612(a) FRE 612(a) & (b) Significant differences.
MGE § 612(b) FRE 612(a) Significant differences.
MGE § 613(a) FRE 613(a) & (b) Significant differences.
MGE § 613(b) n/a No corresponding FRE.
MGE § 614(a) FRE 614(a) Substantially similar.
MGE § 614(b) FRE 614(b) Differences. FRE 614(b) omits any reference to the purpose of the court’s examination of a witness.
MGE § 614(c) FRE 614(c) Substantially similar.
MGE § 614(d) n/a No corresponding FRE.
MGE § 615 FRE 615 Differences. Upon a party’s request, FRE 615 requires, rather than permits, sequestration of witnesses and includes a different list of specific persons who may not be sequestered.

Article VII. Opinion and expert evidence

Massachusetts Section Corresponding Federal Rule Comparison
MGE § 701 FRE 701 Substantially similar. 
MGE § 702 FRE 702 Identical.
MGE § 703 FRE 703 Significant differences. These include that FRE 703 allows experts to rely upon facts not independently admissible if reasonably relied upon by experts in the field.
MGE § 704 FRE 704 Differences. FRE 704(b) prohibits an expert witness from opining on whether the defendant did or did not have a certain mental state or condition that constitutes an element of the crime charged or of a defense.
MGE § 705 FRE 705 Identical.
MGE § 706 FRE 706 Significant differences.

Article VIII. Hearsay

Massachusetts Section Corresponding Federal Rule Comparison
MGE § 801(a) FRE 801(a) Identical.
MGE § 801(b) FRE 801(b) Identical.
MGE § 801(c) FRE 801(c) Identical.
MGE § 801(d)(1)(A) FRE 801(d)(1)(A) Differences.
MGE § 801(d)(1)(B) FRE 801(d)(1)(B) Significant differences. FRE 801(d)(1)(B) excludes from the definition of hearsay certain prior consistent statements of a witness.
MGE § 801(d)(2) FRE 801(d)(2) Substantially similar.
MGE § 802 FRE 802 Differences. FRE 802 provides for hearsay exceptions if found in a Federal statute, another FRE, or a rule prescribed by the United States Supreme Court.
MGE § 803 FRE 803 Significant differences.
MGE § 804(a) FRE 804(a) Differences. FRE 804(a)(2) additionally considers a witness unavailable if he or she refuses to testify despite a court order, even on grounds other than privilege. FRE 804(a)(3) recognizes lack of memory of the subject matter as ground for unavailability in both civil and criminal cases, whereas the Supreme Judicial Court has currently recognized this ground only in civil cases. 
MGE § 804(b) FRE 804(b) Significant differences.
MGE § 805 FRE 805 Substantially similar.
MGE § 806 FRE 806 Differences. FRE 806 extends this rule to certain statements of an opposing party.
MGE § 807 FRE 807 Significant differences. FRE 807 recognizes a residual hearsay exception whereas MGE 807 does not.

Article IX. Authentication and identification

Massachusetts Section Corresponding Federal Rule Comparison
MGE § 901(a) FRE 901(a) Identical. 
MGE § 901(b) FRE 901(b) Significant differences.
MGE § 902 FRE 902 Significant differences.
MGE § 903 FRE 903 Identical.

Article X. Contents of writing and records

Massachusetts Section Corresponding Federal Rule Comparison
MGE § 1001(a) FRE 1001(a), (b), & (c) Significant differences. 
MGE § 1001(b) FRE 1001(d) Differences. FRE 1001(d) defines “original” to include accurate printouts or other readable outputs of electronically stored information and negatives or prints of photographs.
MGE § 1001(c) FRE 1001(e) Significant differences.
MGE § 1002 FRE 1002 Differences. FRE 1002 includes photographs and recordings.
MGE § 1003 FRE 1003 Significant differences.
MGE § 1004(a) FRE 1004(a) Differences. FRE 1004 includes photographs and recordings.
MGE § 1004(b) FRE 1004(b) Identical.
MGE § 1004(c) FRE 1004(c) Identical.
MGE § 1004(d) FRE 1004(d) Differences. FRE 1004(d) includes photographs and recordings.
MGE § 1005(a) FRE 1005 Differences. FRE 1005 generally relates to copies of public records used to prove the contents of official records.
MGE § 1005(b) n/a No corresponding FRE.
MGE § 1005(c) n/a No corresponding FRE.
MGE § 1006 FRE 1006 Differences. FRE 1006 includes photographs and recordings.
MGE § 1007 FRE 1007 Differences. FRE 1007 includes photographs and recordings.
MGE § 1008 FRE 1008 Differences. FRE 1008 includes photographs and recordings. It also delineates more precisely the issues to be determined by the court and those to be determined by the jury.

Article XI. Miscellaneous sections

Massachusetts Section Corresponding Federal Rule Comparison
MGE § 1101(a) FRE 1101(a) Significant differences.
MGE § 1101(b) FRE 1101(c) Substantially similar.
MGE § 1101(c) FRE 1101(d) Significant differences.
MGE § 1101(d) n/a No corresponding FRE.

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