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Massachusetts law about evidence

A compilation of online and print information about evidence law in Massachusetts.

Table of Contents

Note

Although Massachusetts does not have official rules of evidence, there have been efforts over the years to gather Massachusetts evidence law in various documents and texts.  In 1982 the Supreme Judicial Court rejected the proposed Massachusetts Rules of Evidence as a general codification of the law of evidence.  The Massachusetts Evidentiary Standards were organized in a manner similar to the Federal Rules of Evidence in 1989.  The Massachusetts Guide to Evidence was first published in 2008 by the Supreme Judicial Court Advisory Committee on Massachusetts Evidence Law.  This annual publication is also structured like the federal rules, including explanatory notes and citations.

Massachusetts guide to evidence

Massachusetts Guide to Evidence

“The Supreme Judicial Court recommends the use of the Massachusetts Guide to Evidence. Our recommendation of the Massachusetts Guide to Evidence is not to be interpreted as an adoption of a set of rules of evidence, nor a predictive guide to the development of the common law of evidence. The purpose of the Massachusetts Guide to Evidence is to make the law of evidence more accessible and understandable to the bench, bar, and public. We encourage all interested persons to use the Massachusetts Guide to Evidence.”

(Introduction to the Guide to Evidence.)

Federal rules of evidence

Federal rules of evidence for use in Federal court proceedings. 

Massachusetts court rules

Massachusetts general laws

Print sources

To help you prepare points of evidence for your case, here are just some of the topics you might need to research and some of the titles that may help:

  • Witnesses: competency, hearsay, lay testimony, expert testimony, privileges, admissions, confessions
  • Documents: authentication, best evidence rule, business records, hospital records, certified copies
  • Trial Issues: burden of proof, relevance, how to introduce evidence into trial (foundation requirements

Annotated guide to Massachusetts evidence, (Mass. Practice v. 20A) West, annual.  
Article I General Provisions – Article II Judicial Notice – Article III Inferences, Prima Facie Evidence, and Presumptions -Article IV Relevancy and Its Limits – Article V Privileges and Disqualifications – Article VI Witnesses – Article VII Opinion and Expert Evidence – Article VIII Hearsay – Article IX Authentication and Identification – Article X Contents of Writings and Records – Article XI Miscellaneous Sections – Appendix A Federal Rules of Evidence – Appendix B Dwyer Order.

Evidence, 3rd ed. (Mass. Practice v. 19 & 20, West, 2016 with supplement.
Article I General Provisions – Article II Judicial Notice – Article III Inferences, Prima Facie Evidence, and Presumptions -Article IV Relevancy and Its Limits – Article V Privileges and Disqualifications – Article VI Witnesses – Article VII Opinion and Expert Evidence – Article VIII Hearsay – Article IX Authentication and Identification – Article X Contents of Writings and Records – Article XI Miscellaneous Rules – Appendix A The Massachusetts Evidentiary Finder – Appendix B  Massachusetts Trial Objections—Most Useful Objections Overview – Appendix C  Massachusetts Trial Objections – Appendix D proposed Rules of Massachusetts Evidence – Appendix E Massachusetts Guide to Evidence – Appendix F  Federal Rules of Evidence.

The handbook of Massachusetts evidence, Wolters Kluwer, annual.
Ch. 1 General provisions – Ch. 2 Judicial admissions, judicial notice and binding testimony – Ch. 3 Burden of proof, presumptions and inferences – Ch. 4 Relevance and circumstantial proof – Ch. 5 Privileges and disqualifications – Ch. 6 Witnesses – Ch. 7 Opinion and expert testimony – Ch. 8 Hearsay – Ch. 9 Authentication – Ch. 10 The best evidence rule – Ch. 11 Eyewitness identification evidence – Ch. 12 Confessions and incriminating statements – Ch. 13 Opening statements and closing argument – Ch. 14 Evidence in administrative proceedings. 

Massachusetts evidence: a courtroom reference, 2021 edition, MCLE,  loose-leaf.
Ch. 1 Introduction and exclusion of evidence, burdens of proof - Ch. 2 Judicial admissions and evidentiary admissions - Ch. 3 Witness competency - Ch. 4 Evidentiary privileges - Ch. 5. Hearsay - Ch. 6 Expert testimony - Ch. 7 Unavailable witnesses - Ch. 8 Real evidence - Ch. 9 Documentary evidence - Ch. 10 Impeachment

Massachusetts proof of cases, v. 2.  West, annual.  
Ch. 67. Introduction to Massachusetts Evidence Law – Ch. 68. Burden of Proof – Ch. 69. Documentary Evidence – Ch. 70. Evidentiary Privileges – Ch. 71. Expert and Opinion Testimony – Ch. 72. Hearsay Rules and Exceptions – Ch. 73. Quality and Quantity of Evidence – Ch. 74. Real or Demonstrative Evidence – Ch. 75. Relevancy and Circumstantial Evidence – Ch. 76. Scientific Evidence – Ch. 77. Testimonial Evidence

A practical guide to introducing evidence, 5th ed. 2020, MCLE, loose-leaf.  
Ch. 1  A Practical introduction to pre-trial and trial practice – Ch. 2  Introduction of evidence – Ch. 3 Presumptions and facts established without formal proof – Ch. 4 Evidentiary exclusions and limitations – Ch. 5 Witness competency and qualifications – Ch. 6 Witness corroboration and support – Ch. 7 Identification – Ch. 8 Reputation – Ch. 9 Impeachment – Ch. 10 Rehabilitation – Ch. 11 Privilege and disqualification – Ch. 12 Hearsay exceptions involving state of mind – Ch. 13 Documentary evidence – Ch. 14 Demonstrative evidence.

The pocket guide to Massachusetts evidence, MCLE, annual.  

Suppression matters under Massachusetts law, Lexis-Nexis, annual.
Ch. 1 The Origins and purposes of the exclusionary rule – Ch. 2 Predicates to filing a motion to suppress : physical evidence, statements and identifications – Ch. 3 A motion to suppress evidence : is the fourth amendment or is Article 14 implicated? – Ch. 4 Field encounters and the stop – Ch. 5 Field encounters and the frisk – Ch. 6 The law of arrest – Ch. 7 The mechanics of issuing and returning a search warrant – Ch. 8 The standard for issuing a search warrant – Ch. 9 Types of warrants and warrant features – Ch. 10 The probable cause determination – Ch. 11 Consent searches – Ch. 12 Searches incident to a lawful arrest – Ch. 13 Plain view seizures – Ch. 14 The exception for probable cause and exigent circumstances and the motor vehicle exception – Ch. 15 Inventory searches/storage searches – Ch. 16 Administrative searches – Ch. 17 Special needs searches – Ch. 18 Motions to suppress statements: the Fifth Amendment, the Sixth Amendment, Article 12, and "humane practice" – Ch. 19 Motions to suppress identifications – Ch. 20 The scope of suppression

Massachusetts Guide to Evidence, 2021 edition, MCLE, annual
Article I General Provisions - Article II Judicial Notice - Article III Inferences, Prima Facie Evidence, and Presumptions - Article IV Relevancy and its Limits - Article V Privileges and Disqualifications - Article VI Witnesses - Article VII Opinion and Expert Evidence - Article VIII Hearsay - Article IX Authentication and Identification Article X Contents of Writings and Records - Article XI Miscellaneous - Addendum. Federal Rules of Evidence Comparison Chart

 

Contact

Phone

Within Massachusetts only

Within Massachusetts only

Online

Reference librarians online Chat with a law librarian 
Reference librarians via email masslawlib@gmail.com

Address

Administrative office (no law library at this location)
2 Center Plaza
9th Floor
Boston, MA 02108
Date published: November 4, 2021
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