The Best Evidence Rule Essay Paper

The Best Evidence Rule
The Best Evidence Rule

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The Best Evidence Rule

What is the best evidence rule? Explain in detail.

The best evidence rule in the US Constitution is associated with Article X of the Federal Rules of Evidence (1001-1008). The statute identifies the guiding principles that may require either the plaintiff or defendant to table as evidence the contents of a document, footage or photograph at trial in the absence of original documents.  However, secondary evidence can only be allowed, if either party can present tangible reasons for the missing original document.

The rule applies best in a circumstance where the party endeavors to substantiate contents of copy document presented as evidence at trial. Moreover, evidence to the original content can be adduced in the form of testimonies. Modern times have, however, necessitated the application of electronic, motionless and other copies as a substitute for the original (Miller, 2012). The general rule dictates that secondary evidence cannot be tabled at trial if the original document exists. 

Why was the best evidence rule implemented into the U.S. court system? Explain.

In the US for instance, the court system held the view that any secondary evidence was inadequate. As such, the judicial system would prefer original content or recorded evident as opposed to photocopies because the substantiation in these documents was reliable and of great significance in a court of law(Miller, 2012).  

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A case in point is where the Washington Post did a story based on a leakage which necessitated the fall of President Richard Nixon of the United States in 1972. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein wrote the editorial piece that carried grave allegations.  The article highlighted a well-orchestrated ploy to rig President Nixon into the office for the second term.

Moreover, the information also led to the Watergate scandal. While the heated the article generated led to the President Nixon’s resignation from office, it also paved the way for the imprisonment of several top officers in the Nixon’s government (Amaya, 2008).The best evidence rule as enfolded in the Federal Rules of Evidence demands the application of original content, footage and photographic material or paintings. The precision of evidence it presents underscores the reason the statute was implemented in the United States court system.

What is the rationale behind its application?

The motivation for applying the best evidence rule can only be comprehended from the circumstances in which it emerges. The 18th Century, for instance, a situation arose where handmade evidence was tabled as evidence at trial. This set precedence for theassumption that in the absence of original content, there was every reason not to rely on the copy adduced as evidence (Miller, 2012).

Two viewpoints underlie the basis of the best evidence rule:

Fraud Deterrence:

The rule safeguards against false evidence. There is a presumption that an original document is less susceptible to falsified exploitation than a verbal testimony about the write-up. By admitting original content, the best evidence rule thwarts fraudulent orchestrations. Regardless of where the best evidence rule applies, it may be irrelevant to foil fraud in a bid to weaken the fraud rationale.

However, advents of photographic and scanning technology have made it probable to forge documents. While the best evidence rule may help to curtail fraud, it does not mean that all original documents tabled as evidence for trial are necessarily genuine (Allen and Stein, 2013).

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CurtailingMisconception of Writings

The justification presented is that the rule was formulated to curtail any likelihood of a deceitful imprint of the writings by demanding for the provision of original documents if they exist. Precluding misconceptions is a critical element; however, modern developments of the discovery weaken this to justify the best evidence rule model(Miller, 2012). The rationale that the judges can examine original documents implies that they can also determine the impreciseness before trial as opposed to unraveling the same problems using the best evidence rule.

Review the following cases concerning wiretapping:

Olmstead v. the United States

Olmstead’s office and the home area were tapped in a stealth mode by the federal agents. It is this evidence from that wiretaps that was used against him in court.  The judgment was anchored on a wire-tapped discussion in which Olmstead insinuated a ploy to violate the National Prohibition Act through the importation and selling of illicit beer(Anderson, Schum and Twining, 2009).

The pronouncements to employ wiretapped discussions as implicating evidence did not violate their Fifth Amendment safety against self-incrimination as the conversationwas not illegitimately executed but were volunteered between the two parties. Independently, the party’s 4th Amendments rights were contravened because the whole issue of wiretapping does not entail a search and appropriation the sole impression of the 4th Amendment.  Moreover, for ethical reasons, the jury ruled that wiretapping could be immoral, but no court can exclude such evidence.

Nardone v. the United States

In the case of Nardone v. the US, it’s challenging to understand the information used in the investigation the purpose as a result of security alert, a significant amount of data was recorded. In the identification of data that breaches privacy, lawmakers should be in a position to realize, hear and comprehend information, which is not relevant to the primary goal of the investigation. It is also intricate how a regime uses words spoken by an individual to convict them. In such a government, an individual can choose to speak or keep quiet while wiretapping fulfills the credentials for use in the court of law (Miller, 2012).

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Goldman v. the United States

In this case, the court ruled that dictaphones did not breach the Fourth Amendment. The dictaphone was placed on the office wall to record private discussion. Such a ruling the court reported that there was no physical violation of the intercepted discussion(Miller, 2012).  It is evident that the Fourth Amendment protected the individuals in this case as well as areas from unwarranted search and seizure.

Berger v. New York

In the Berger v. New York case, Mr. Berger was charged with the crime of bribing the Chairman of Liquor Authority of New York State. It began when Ralph Pansini complained to the District Attorney regarding the state of New York agents raiding his bar and seizing accounting records. Pansini alleges that the raid was due to his refusal to pay the license fee. As such, he uses are cording device to interview and record the views of workers about the actual license fee.

Katz v. the United States

In this case, Katz purchased a public phone booth and used it in transferring illegal betting wagers. Unfortunately, the FBI was monitoring his conversations using electronic eavesdropping tool fixed on the booth. Katz appealed to the court but, the pleas were rejected since there was no physical violation to booth regardless of various constitutional issues that were brought into perspective.

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Summarize the current status of wiretapping restrictions according to the reviewed cases above.

Based on the above situations, they have different views regarding the legitimacy to use wiretapping in the court. In Goldman and Olmstead cases were diluted by their views. However, the main issue is that whether the seizures and searches are constitutional and meet the required standards as stipulated by law. The government’s decision to not only listen but also record electronic data of petitioners is against their right to use the phone booth.

Alleging that electronic tools used in recording information did not violate the booth is not constitutional(Anderson, Schum and Twining, 2009). The administration is adamant stating that the officers acted in that manner as defensive approach while the investigationwas initiated after the suspect was confirmed to be using the alleged phone booth to disseminate betting content to individuals in Boston, Miami, and Los Angeles, which is a breach of the federal laws. In these cases, wiretapping used by government officers is solely used for security reasons and also restricted to data that violates federal laws.

How must evidence derived from wiretapping be packaged and preserved? Explain.

Evidence collected from wiretapping is relevant in the above cases. As such, it should package and preserve in large containers. But for crime related cases such as stained clothes, the evidence should be stored in plastic bags to prevent proof from being interfered with because it is likely to compromise with original proof. With regards to ammunition cases, evidence must preserve in dry areas so avoid rusting such as plastic equipment. Another important fact to put into account is the use of safes and access should be done by certain individuals (Miller, 2012).

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How does wiretapping evidence relate to the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine? Explain.

Wiretapping involves the use of electronic tools are secretly fixed to record theconversation of unsuspecting individuals, which is used later as proof in the court(Miller, 2012). On the other hand, “fruit of the poisonoustree” doctrine evidence is not employed if obtained in a way that calls for pervasive searches. The “fruit of the poisonoustree” doctrine was instigated to avoid law enforcers from breaching the rights of people through unnecessary searches as well as seizures.

What is the likely outcome of your case in court if the originals are not located? Explain.

This may lead to the dismissal of such a case sincethe judicial system allows for the recording of any case as adequate proof. Moreover, the parties may not agree on the data that its originality is not located. In the court of law, the accused attorney determine the proof against their clients and in instances where the evidenceis not validated, they (attorney) can easily win the case (Anderson, Schum and Twining, 2009).


Allen, R. and A. Stein, (2013). “Evidence, Probability and the Burden of Proof”, Arizona Law Review, 55: 557–602.

Amaya, A., (2008). “Justification, Coherence, and Epistemic Responsibility in Legal Fact-finding”,Episteme, 5: 306–319.

Anderson, T., D. Schum and W. Twining, (2009).Analysis of Evidence, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 3rd edition.

Miller, .C. (2012). Evidence: Best Evidence Rule. John Marshall Law School, Chicago

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