2021 Edition

Official Print Edition of the Supreme Judicial Court Advisory Committee on Massachusetts Evidence Law

The Massachusetts Guide to Evidence assembles existing Massachusetts evidence law in an easy-to-use document organized similarly to the Federal Rules of Evidence. The Guide includes extensive explanatory notes and citations to pertinent authorities. The 2021 edition is the thirteenth annual edition of the Guide.

The 2021 edition of the Guide incorporates dozens of opinions issued by the Supreme Judicial Court and the Appeals Court between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020, and updates several sections to reflect the current state of the Massachusetts evidence law. For example, the 2021 edition contains significant revisions to the text and notes of Section 404(b) regarding prior bad acts, Section 412(a) regarding evidence of a victim’s sexual orientation, Section 608(b) regarding impeachment of police officer witnesses’ credibility with specific incidents of prior misconduct, and Sections 801 and 803 concerning the rule against hearsay and its exceptions. Additional significant revisions are found in Sections 1101(c)-(d) on the topics of the admissibility of evidence in probation violation hearings and suppression hearings and Section 1116 clarifying the analysis required to assess the exercise of peremptory challenges.

The 2021 edition also includes new Section 1119, titled “Digital Evidence.” The Advisory Committee added this section in recognition of the fact that attorneys and self-represented litigants “have increasingly relied on evidence created and stored on cell phones and other personal electronic devices as proof in evidentiary hearings and trials, often requesting judges to view and personally inspect digital evidence on their personal devices.” The section’s note summarizes common evidentiary issues that arise with respect to digital evidence and cross-references other pertinent sections of the Guide. The section emphasizes the importance of the orderly presentation and preservation of digital evidence.

In 2006, the Supreme Judicial Court established the Advisory Committee to prepare a Massachusetts Guide to Evidence at the request of the Massachusetts Bar Association, the Boston Bar Association, and the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys. Since 2008, the Supreme Judicial Court has appointed a standing Committee to monitor and incorporate new legal developments and produce annual new editions of the Guide.

Publisher: Flaschner Judicial Institute (2021)


Dimensions: 6 x 9 inches


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