Tuesday, October 04, 2011

On Rules of Evidence for Virginia

Today the VLW Daily Alert reports that the Virginia Supreme Court has adopted Rules of Evidence, and includes an article that suggests that their adoption is a result of Cynthia Kinser becoming the Chief Justice.

It may be evident from some of her opinions (such as the opinion for the Court in Shaheen v. County of Mathews) that Chief Justice Kinser is not as averse to the use of federal precedents as were some of her predecessors on the Court.

Two examples of this former aversion that stick in my head would include Jordan v. Clay's Rest Home, in which the Court by Justice Compton pointedly rejected the federal proof scheme developed over decades for resolving circumstantial cases of employment discrimination, and Doe v. Isaacs, in which the Court again by Justice Compton expressly refused to consider an unpublished Fourth Circuit opinion (by a panel that included Emory Widener).

The only opposition to Rule of Evidence that I ever heard among lawyers was the fear in some circles that it would lead to the adoption of the dreaded Daubert standard for the admissibility of expert testimony, which is viewed as anti-plaintiff. On the difference if any between the Virginia law of evidence and Daubert, I have often recommended this article by Judge Kelsey.