Evidence Viewpoints®: Questions and Answers On The Recently Restyled Federal Rule Of Evidence

The next Evidence Viewpoints® series provides background and insight into the development and amendment of the restyled Federal Rules of Evidence, effective December 1, 2011; The Honorable Robert L. Hinkle, who served as Chair of the Advisory Committee on Evidence Rules during the restyling amendment process, recently answered questions concerning this significant undertaking

On December 1, 2011, restyled Federal Rules of Evidence became effective following a multi-year effort. The Federal Evidence Review recently had the chance to ask Judge Robert L. Hinkle, the Chair of the Advisory Committee on Evidence Rules during the restyling amendment process, about this development. The article, which is available to subscribers, is part of the next issue of the Federal Evidence Review. See Evidence Viewpoints: Questions and Answers on the Recently Restyled Federal Rules of Evidence, 9 Fed. Evid. Rev. 225-29 (March 2012). To subscribe to the Federal Evidence Review, visit the Subscribe Page.

Questions Answered

In the article, the following questions were asked and answered:

  • Q1: For those who are not familiar, what is the process to amend the Federal Rules of Evidence under the Rules Enabling Act?
  • Q2: How did the effort to restyle the Federal Rules of Evidence start? Who initiated the idea?
  • Q3: What were the primary objectives in restyling the Federal Rules of Evidence?
  • Q4: As Chair of the Advisory Committee on Evidence Rules, what responsibilities did you have? How long was your service as Chair and on the committee?
  • Q5: Other federal rules had been restyled (including the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure in 1998, the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure in 2002, and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in 2007). What lessons, if any, did the Advisory Committee take from these prior restyling efforts?
  • Q6: Since any effort to restyle the federal rules is a significant undertaking, please explain the process in which the Federal Rules of Evidence were restyled. How long was the process from start to finish?
  • Q7: The objective was to make “styling” changes but not “substantive” amendments to the Federal Rules of Evidence. What working principle was used to distinguish between style and substantive changes? How did the committee ensure that no substantive changes were made to the meaning or application of any rule?
  • Q8: In the process of restyling the Federal Rules of Evidence, were substantive areas identified that may be the subject of future amendments?
  • Q9: What was the impact and contributions from hearings which the Advisory Committee held and
    the public comments that were submitted? Were any significant changes made along the way? What other input was provided to the initial drafts?
  • Q10: After the U.S. Judicial Conference recommended and transmitted the Report of the Judicial
    Conference Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure to the Chief Justice of the United States,
    what changes did the Supreme Court make to the proposed Restyled Rules?
  • Q11: What recognition and awards have been made since the restyling effort? What was the significance of the award?
  • Q12: In looking ahead, are there any thoughts or views to share concerning the restyled Federal Rules of Evidence?

Past Chair of the Advisory Committee on Evidence Rules

Robert L. Hinkle has been a United States District Judge in the Northern District of Florida since 1996. He was the district’s chief judge from 2004 to 2009. He was a member of the Judicial Conference of the United States — the governing body of the United States courts — from 2005 to 2007. He served on the Judicial Conference Advisory Committee on the Rules of Evidence from 2002 to 2010. He was the committee’s chair from 2007 to 2010. During his tenure the committee undertook a comprehensive project to restyle the rules.

Other Restyling Resource Materials

The Federal Evidence Review has provided a number of resource materials on the Restyled FRE at FederalEvidence.com, including:

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Evidence Viewpoints®

Evidence Viewpoints® is a periodic feature which highlights significant and noteworthy evidence issues. The series provides a forum for judges, practitioners, and scholars to discuss and address topical evidence matters. To learn more about submitting an article to
Evidence Viewpoints®, visit the Submissions Page.

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