If you've taken Evidence in law school, then you are aware of how difficult the rules of evidence can be. The complexity and difficulty of the rules grows exponentially in a trial.
A recent SC Supreme Court case, State v. Williams, shows how the rules can be difficult. Often times one piece of evidence can have multiple rules of evidence that are applicable. A statement by a witness can be hearsay, it can violate best evidence, it can be impeachment, it can raise character evidence, and on and on.
Look at this testimony and then see that there are at least 3 different rules of evidence that must be applied and multiple standards for each rule:
And from the SC Supreme Court on this testimony:
For a blog post on this case and how the Court ruled, click here.
One method that can dramatically help focus any evidence question is one simple question: Why?
Justice Few's blog post on this critical question is probably the most important piece a litigator, student, or judge can use to help guide them on a difficult or complicated evidence question.
Whenever I am confused or unsure about an evidence objection (which is more often than not), I always ask the proponent of the evidence "Why are you introducing this? What is the purpose?" And then go from there.