Forty-Seven Key Supreme Court Cases Impacting Evidence Issues

List includes constitutional, statutory, and Federal Rules of Evidence - based evidence-related cases

The Federal Evidence Review has compiled a list of forty key evidence key evidence cases decided by the Supreme Court, which is listed below.

The Supreme Court often sets the direction in which evidence law develops. Some Supreme Court cases clarify the application of constitutional provisions. For example, the landmark Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004) five years ago marked a significant new application of the Confrontation Clause. This Term, another key Supreme Court Confrontation Clause case is anticipated in the case of Luis E. Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts (No. 07–591). The issue under review is: “Whether a state forensic analyst’s laboratory report prepared for use in a criminal prosecution is ‘testimonial’ evidence subject to the demands of the Confrontation Clause as set forth in Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36 (2004).” The site maintains a Resource Page that monitors developments in this case and will continue to assess the application of the outcome in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts.

Other Supreme Court cases explain or illuminate the scope and application of the rules of evidence. The Daubert and Kumho Tire cases announced new standards to admit expert evidence. Other cases address the scope of privileges. For example, in , 491 U.S. 554 (1989), the Supreme Court discussed the showing necessary to invoke in camera review of the crime-fraud exception under the attorney-client privilege.

For more information on the summary of the holdings for these cases, visit the Key Evidence Cases Page. Of course, any effort to develop a list is an ongoing one and may inadvertently omit some cases. If you have any other cases to suggest for this growing list, send it in a comment to this post below.

The Federal Evidence Review's
Key Supreme Court Evidence Cases

Evidence CaseCitationEvidence Issue(s)
Anderson v. United States417 U.S. 211 (1974)(FRE 801(d)(2)(E))
Beech Aircraft Corp. v. Rainey488 U.S. 153 (1988) (FRE 803(8), FRE 106, FRE 401)
Bourjaily v. United States483 U.S. 171 (1987) (Confrontation Clause, FRE 801(d)(2)(E))
Bruton v. United States391 U.S. 123 (1968) (Confrontation Clause)
Chapman v. California386 U.S. 18 (1967) (Harmless Error Standard)
Coy v. Iowa487 U.S. 1012 (1988) (Confrontation Clause)
Crawford v. Washington541 U.S. 36 (2004) (Confrontation Clause)
Cruz v. New York481 U.S. 186 (1987) (Confrontation Clause)
Danforth v. Minnesota552 U.S. __, 128 S.Ct. 1029 (2008) (FRE 403, FRE 401)
Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc.509 U.S. 579 (1993)(FRE 702)
Davis v. Washington547 U.S. 813 , 126 S.Ct. 2266 (2006) (Confrontation Clause)
Fisher v. United States425 U.S. 391 (1976) (FRE 501 (Attorney-Client Privilege))
General Electric Co. v. Joiner522 U.S. 136 (1997) (FRE 702)
Giles v. California554 U.S. _, 128 S.Ct. 2678 (2008) (Confrontation Clause)
Gray v. Maryland523 U.S. 185 (1998) (Confrontation Clause)
Hickman v. Taylor329 U.S. 495 (1947) (Work Product Doctrine)
Holmes v. South Carolina547 U.S. 319 (2006)(Confrontation Clause or Compulsory Process Clause, Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (meaningful opportunity to present a complete defense), FRE 403)
Huddleston v. United States485 U.S. 681 (1988)(FRE 404(b), FRE 104(b))
Hunt v. Blackburn128 U.S. 464 (1888)(Attorney-Client Privilege)
Jaffee v. Redmond518 U.S. 1 (1996)(FRE 501 (Psychotherapist Privilege))
Kumho Tire Co. v. Carmichael526 U.S. 137 (1999)(FRE 702)
Luce v. United States469 U.S. 38 (1984)(FRE 609)
Maryland v. Craig497 U.S. 836 (1990)(Confrontation Clause)
Ohio v. Roberts448 U.S. 56 (1980)(Confrontation Clause)
Ohler v. United States529 U.S. 753 (2000)(FRE 609)
Old Chief v. United States519 U.S. 172 (1997) (FRE 403)
Richardson v. Marsh481 U.S. 200 (1987)(Confrontation Clause)
Roberts v. Russell392 U.S. 293 (1968) (per curiam) (Confrontation Clause)
Schneble v. Florida405 U.S. 427 (1972)(Confrontation Clause)
Sprint/United Management Co. v. Mendelsohn552 U.S. __, 128 S.Ct. 1140 (2008) (FRE 401, FRE 403)
Swidler & Berlin v. United States524 U.S. 399 (1998) (FRE 501 (Attorney-Client Privilege))
Tennessee v. Street471 U.S. 409 (1985) (Confrontation Clause)
Tome v. United States513 U.S. 150 (1995)(FRE 801(d)(1)(B))
Trammel v. United States445 U.S. 40 (1980)(FRE 501 (Privilege Against Adverse Spousal Testimony))
United States v. Abel469 U.S. 45 (1984)(FRE 401, FRE 402, FRE 403, FRE 608(b))
United States v. Felix503 U.S. 378 (1992)(FRE 404(b))
United States v. Gillock445 U.S. 360, 367-68 (1980)(FRE 501 (No State Legislator Privilege))
United States v. Inadi475 U.S. 387 (1986)(Confrontation Clause)
United States v. Mezzanatto513 U.S. 196 (1995)(FRE 410)
United States v. Nixon418 U.S. 683 (1974)(Executive Privilege)
United States v. Olano507 U.S. 725 (1993)(Plain Error Standard)
United States v. Salerno505 U.S. 317 (1992)(FRE 804(b)(1))
United States v. Zolin491 U.S. 554 (1989)(FRE 104(a), FRE 501 (Attorney-Client Privilege))
University Of Pennsylvania v. EEOC493 U.S. 182 (1990)(FRE 501(No Peer Review Privilege))
Upjohn Co. v. United States449 U.S. 383 (1981)(FRE 501 (Attorney-Client Privilege))
Whorton v. Bockting549 U.S. 406, 127 S.Ct. 1173 (2007) (Confrontation Clause)
Williamson v. United States512 U.S. 594 (1994)(FRE 804(b)(3))
Federal Rules of Evidence