LinkedLaw Deskbook
ITEM #:  60094800   |   PUBLISHED:  APRIL 9, 2013

Rulings on Evidence: An Evidentiary Manual for Minnesota Trial Judges and Judicial Officers (and Attorneys!), 1st Edition

by Judge Gordon Shumaker (Ret.)

Judge Gordon Shumaker (ret.) has served as a trial judge, an appellate judge, and an adjunct professor of Evidence and Trial Advocacy at several law schools. He was a member of the 2006 Supreme Court Advisory Committee for the Rules of Evidence, is a contributing author of the Minnesota Courtroom Evidence Deskbook, and has taught at and written materials for many continuing education courses for lawyers and judges. He views the rules of evidence as litigation tools and his goal is to make key rules accessible to even the infrequent litigator.

Bringing his incredible knowledge and insight from his years as both a trial and appellate court judge, Judge Gordon Shumaker (Ret.) wrote this manual to be an easy-to-use guide to evidence for judges and attorneys. This practical evidence manual gives guidance on how to analyze common evidentiary issues, what key points to be aware of and important factors to consider when ruling on evidentiary issues or when presenting evidence to the court. Full of great judicial insight and tips, this book is written for trial judges and judicial officers, as well as practicing attorneys.

Purchase the hard copy and receive a coupon code to purchase the corresponding LinkedLaw eDeskbook for only $50! Code will be sent to you with your hard copy.

The Primacy of Judicial Discretion
Rules – MRE 102-1002; Scope – Investigation of the nature of judicial discretion, thoughts on exceeding discretion, and guidance on the limits of discretion; Judge Alert – Judicial discretion is broad but not unlimited. There must always be a plausible basis in a rule or principle for its proper exercise.

The Challenge of Neutrality
Rules – MRE 102 & 611(a); Scope – Considerations of the critical importance of judicial neutrality and its relation to the truthseeking function of trials; Judge Alert – Because evidentiary rulings can often affect the outcome of a case, it is imperative that all rulings be made impartially.

Trial Management
Rules – MRE 403 & 611; Scope – General overview of judge’s function as trial manager, and tools for managing and controlling the way evidence is presented; Judge Alert – The trial process works best if the judge assumes the role of a vigilant manager who refrains from unnecessarily interfering with the presentation of the evidence.

Critical Foundations
Rules – MRE 104(a), 602, 702, 801(d)(2)(D) & (E), 803 (1), (6), (8), (1), (19), (20), & (21), 804(a) & (b)(2), 901(a), (902), & 1004; Scope – Definition and functions of foundation; need for foundation for all evidence; and judicial duty to disclose and rule; Judge Alert – Unless waived or stipulated to, all evidence must be supported by foundation, the adequacy of which is to be determined by the judge in the exercise of discretion.

Burden of Persuasion and Standards
Rules – No express rules; Scope – Statement of the principle that the proponent of any proposition respecting the admission or exclusion of evidence has the burden of supporting the proposition; Judge Alert – For complicated evidentiary issues, the judge acts properly by requiring the proponent to meet his burden rather than simply deferring to the judge.

Division of Functions Between Judge and Jury
Rules – MRE 104; Scope – Description of the judge’s preliminary role as to offers of evidence;  Judge Alert – The judge’s personal belief as to the weight and credibility of evidence is ordinarily irrelevant and should not become the criterion for admissibility.

Admissibility Versus Weight
Rules – MRE 402, 403, 412, 602, 609, 612, 802; Scope – Recognizing judge’s domain of admissibility and jury’s domain of weight; and what is included in “weight”; Judge Alert – The broad principle underlying the concept of admissibility is that the judge should allow evidence that is reasonably helpful and reliable and that does not violate an express rule or offend some policy goal.

Rulings on Objections and Evidentiary Motions
Rules – MRE 103; Scope – Survey of common recurring objections and rulings; Judge Alert – The judge has a duty to rule on objections and to disclose the grounds of the rulings if requested and if the grounds are not apparent, but the judge is not required to explain evidentiary rulings to the advocates.

Rulings on Relevancy Issues
Rules – MRE 401, 402, & 104(b);  Scope – How to determine what evidence is relevant; and rulings on conditional relevancy; Judge Alert – Nothing is relevant in the abstract but rather evidence becomes relevant only if it has a relationship to a fact of consequence in the case; and nearly always the concern is as to circumstantial evidence for which a “link” must be found.

Rulings on Rule 403 Issues
Rules – MRE 403, 404(b), 412(1), 608(c), 609(a)(1), & 609(b); Scope – Exploration of the uses of this discretionary “master rule” and identification of rules that do not apply the Rule 403 balancing test; Judge Alert – The most challenging aspect of Rule 403 is the determination of unfairly prejudicial evidence. The rule of thumb is that evidence is unfairly prejudicial if it invites a verdict on something other than the proper evidentiary ingredients of the case, such as inflamed emotions or the desire to punish.

Rulings on Issues of Character Evidence Under MRE 404(a)
Rules – MRE 404(a); Scope – Recognizing character evidence and considering the judge’s obligations; Judge Alert – The purpose for which the evidence will be offered is dispositive under MRE 404(a). If the purpose—stated or implied—is to invite an inference that a person acted in conformity with his character on a particular occasion, the evidence is inadmissible unless one of the exceptions identified in this rule applies.

Rulings on MRE 404(b) “Other Acts”/Spreigl Issues
Rules – MRE 404(b); Scope – Determining applicability of “other acts” evidence; and applying the balancing test; Judge Alert – MRE 404(b) is not an exception to the character-evidence rule but rather allows evidence of acts other than the one being litigated for various relevant purposes that do not amount to inviting a character-evidence inference. The legitimacy of purpose is critical.

Rulings on Issues of Habit and Routine Practice
Rules – MRE 406; Scope – Distinction of habit/routine practice evidence from character evidence; and requirements for admissibility; Judge Alert – The key to applying MRE 406 is determining whether certain conduct can legitimately be called habitual or routine. And the two core ingredients are identical stimulus and identical response.

Rulings on Admissibliity of Lay Witness Testimony
Rules – MRE 602 & 701; Scope – Understanding the foundation for lay witness testimony and the rule regarding lay witness opinion and inference; Judge Alert – A lay witness is permitted to testify to relevant facts that he perceived through the exercise of one or more senses. He is also permitted to state opinions and draw inferences if they are derived from his sensory perceptions and are virtually the only way the witness can intelligibly express those perceptions.

Rulings on Admissibility of Expert Evidence
Rules – MRE 702, 703, 704, & 705;  Scope – Admissibility of, and limitations upon, expert testimony;  Judge Alert – Helpfulness is the sine qua non of expert testimony. Given a proper subject and a qualified expert, the general rule is that expert testimony that will help the jury more fully, clearly and meaningfully understand the evidence is admissible.

Rulings on Impeachment Issues
Rules – MRE 607, 608, 609, & 613;  Scope – Review of the ways in which witnesses may be impeached and the rules governing impeachment procedures; Judge Alert – As soon as a witness swears or affirms to tell the truth, his credibility is in issue and is never collateral. In addition to showing defects in the witness’s perception, memory or narration, counsel may impeach with bias, prior inconsistent statements, bad character for truthfulness, and prior criminal conviction.

Rulings on Issues Related to Documents and Other Exhibits
Rules – MRE 106, 612, 901, 803(5), 613(a), 803(6), 803(8), 803(7), 803(10), 803(11) – (24), 902, & 1002-1006; Scope – Review of rules relating to all types of exhibits and foundations required for admissibility; Judge Alert – As to the admissibility of exhibits, the judge’s role is to decide whether there are sufficient foundational facts to support the jury’s finding that the exhibit is what its proponent claims it is. The foundations illustrated in MRE 901(b) are sufficient to satisfy this requirement.

Rulings on Hearsay Issues
Rules – MRE Article VIII; Scope – Applying the hearsay definition; the prior statements and party statements rules; three categories of hearsay exceptions and their foundations; multiple hearsay; the hearsay impeachment rule; and the  Crawford rule and its relation to certain hearsay issues; Judge Alert – The clearest “red flag” that a hearsay issue is about to be raised is any question that asks a witness to repeat a statement made orally, in writing, or by nonverbal conduct, by anyone, at another time and place. 

Rulings on Issues Relating to Special Relevancy Under MRE 407 through 412
Rules – MRE 407, 408, 409, 410, 411, & 412; Scope – Overview of the special relevancy rules with emphasis on foundation required for applicability; Judge Alert – These rules primarily reflect policy limitations on admissibility of certain evidence, most importantly subsequent remedial measures, settlement negotiations, plea bargains, and victims’ prior sexual conduct in sex offense prosecutions (the “Rape Shield” rule).

Rulings on Issues Relating to Judicial Notice
Rules – MRE 201; Scope – When and how judicial notice is used; Judge Alert – Judicial notice is a useful tool for expediting a civil trial and may be exercised sua sponte, but strictly in accordance with the rule.

Minnesota Rules of Evidence

HARD COPY:  $129
LINKEDLAW:  $125 for 1-year subscription

Bundle and save!
Purchase the hard copy and receive a coupon code to purchase the corresponding LinkedLaw eDeskbook for only $50! Code will be sent to you with your hard copy.

Other discounts that may apply:

Quantity discount:
Please email or call 800-759-8840 to inquire about bulk orders.

Take Your Deskbooks to the Next Level With LinkedLaw

Minnesota CLE's Deskbooks, important resources you have known and trusted for decades, are even more valuable with LinkedLaw, an innovative web-based product. LinkedLaw Deskbooks are available 24/7 online, via your computer or mobile device. In addition to being fully searchable, LinkedLaw Deskbooks are linked to primary authorities mentioned in the text. Summon the texts of statutes, rules, and cases with simple mouse clicks. Navigate through the book quickly and easily using the table of contents to jump directly to corresponding pages within the book. 

And, with a LinkedLaw Deskbook subscription you will always have the most current version of the Deskbook at your fingertips. All updates and new editions published during the subscription period are incorporated automatically and seamlessly into the LinkedLaw Deskbook, becoming instantly available at no extra cost.

LinkedLaw Deskbooks have everything you need to research, prepare and evaluate dynamite analysis – and save valuable time in the process!

View All Titles

View Sample

Purchasing LinkedLaw eDeskbook Subscriptions
LinkedLaw eDeskbooks are sold individually on an annual subscription basis and must be purchased online. The price of a LinkedLaw eDeskbook subscription includes all updates and new editions that are published during the subscription period. They are incorporated automatically and seamlessly into the LinkedLaw eDeskbook, becoming instantly available to the user at no extra cost. No action or additional purchase is required during the subscription period to keep the LinkedLaw eDeskbook up-to-date.

Accessing LinkedLaw eDeskbooks
Subscribers have 24/7 access to their LinkedLaw eDeskbooks through their account on the Minnesota CLE website under My Account > eResources & Publications. Access to each LinkedLaw eDeskbook subscription will be available to the subscriber for 12 months from the date of purchase. LinkedLaw eDeskbook subscriptions bundled with a hard copy deskbook end when the next update is published.

Using LinkedLaw eDeskbooks
LinkedLaw eDeskbooks are designed to be user-friendly. Easy-to-use features allow you to navigate quickly through the book, readily search the entire text, and instantly summon the text of primary authorities mentioned in the text. Depending on the device being used, additional features may also be available to you including tools that allow you to copy and paste, zoom in and out, expand the table of contents, view page thumbnails, and more.

Renewing LinkedLaw eDeskbook Subscriptions
Current subscribers to an individual LinkedLaw eDeskbook title can renew their subscription at a specially reduced subscription rate if renewing within the time frame specified.

LinkedLaw Deskbooks can be accessed on any operating system with a supported internet browser and HTML5. The operating system should have 512MB or more of RAM and a single core CPU 2.0 GHz or dual core CPU 1.5 GHz or higher.

LinkedLaw Deskbooks also can be accessed on mobile devices that support HTML5. Some features such as the copy and paste tool may not be available on these devices.

The system is designed to recognize the user's device/platform and load the appropriate version of the LinkedLaw Deskbook.

Test your system by viewing this LinkedLaw Deskbook sample:

View Sample

I understand and agree to the following:

  1. The LinkedLaw Deskbook subscription period will extend for one year from the date you submit your credit card payment information. The subscription fee is nonrefundable. Your subscription will not automatically renew, but you may renew at a reduced price if renewing within the time frame specified. The subscription is nontransferable. LinkedLaw Deskbook subscriptions bundled with a hard copy deskbook end when the next update is published.

  2. Minnesota Continuing Legal Education grants you a nonexclusive, nontransferable license to access, retrieve, and view the LinkedLaw Deskbook during your subscription period. Sections of the Deskbook also may be cut and pasted into your documents and forms may be downloaded for your use. The LinkedLaw Deskbook is for your personal use only. LinkedLaw contains copyrighted and other proprietary information. You may not in any way make commercial or other unauthorized use, by publication, re-transmission, distribution, copying, sharing, resale, or otherwise, of material obtained from LinkedLaw, except as permitted by the Copyright Act or other law. The compilation of all content in LinkedLaw is the exclusive property of Minnesota Continuing Legal Education and is protected by U.S. and international copyright laws.

  3. Disclaimer and Limitation of Liability:

    Any information contained in the materials in LinkedLaw is not legal advice. Non-lawyers should seek the advice of a licensed attorney in all legal matters. Readers should assure themselves that the material in LinkedLaw was current and applicable at the time of the Deskbook's original publication. Obviously, neither Minnesota Continuing Legal Education nor the authors can warrant that the material will continue to be accurate, nor do they warrant it to have been completely free of errors when first published. Readers should verify any statements before relying on them.

    The materials reflect the viewpoints of their authors and do not necessarily express the opinions of Minnesota Continuing Legal Education.

    Minnesota Continuing Legal Education makes no warranties, express or implied, concerning the materials contained in LinkedLaw. Minnesota Continuing Legal Education expressly disclaims all implied warranties of merchantability and of fitness for a particular purpose.

    Minnesota Continuing Legal Education does not warrant that this Website, its services, its servers, or e-mails sent from it are free of viruses or other harmful components. Under no circumstances shall Minnesota Continuing Legal Education be liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, special, punitive, or consequential damages that result in any way from your use of this site, or sites to which it links, or from reliance on or use of information, services, software, or merchandise provided on or through this site, or that result from deletion of files, delays in operation or transmission of data, or any failure of performance of the site.

  4. Minnesota Continuing Legal Education reserves the right to immediately terminate this Agreement and deny you access to LinkedLaw if you materially breach this Agreement, including but not limited to misuse or unauthorized distribution of the LinkedLaw materials.

  5. This Agreement is governed by the laws of the state of Minnesota. If any provision of this Agreement, or its application, shall, at any time or to any extent, be invalid or unenforceable, the remainder of this Agreement shall not be affected thereby. Each other provision of this Agreement shall be valid and enforceable to the fullest extent permitted by law. Failure by Minnesota Continuing Legal Education to enforce any provision does not waive any further enforcement rights.


What is the difference between the LinkedLaw Deskbook Library and the LinkedLaw Deskbook Premium Library?

The LinkedLaw Deskbook Premium Library contains one additional Deskbook, the best-selling Drafting Wills and Trust Agreements LinkedLaw Deskbook.


Do I need any special hardware or software to access LinkedLaw Deskbooks?

LinkedLaw Deskbooks can be used accessed with any Internet browser on any device. Some tools like copy/paste may not be available on mobile devices. Test your system by viewing the LinkedLaw Deskbook sample.


May I preview a LinkedLaw Deskbook before deciding to subscribe?

You are welcome to give the LinkedLaw Deskbook sample a test drive!


May I purchase a LinkedLaw Deskbook or LinkedLaw Library Subscription over the phone?

No, purchasing a subscription online is how you activate the link to access an individual LinkedLaw Deskbook or the LinkedLaw Deskbook Library.


Can I be invoiced for a LinkedLaw Deskbook or LinkedLaw Deskbook Library subscription?

No, subscriptions must be purchased and paid for online.


Is the length of my subscription rounded off to the nearest week or month?

No, your subscription will run one full year (or month, if a monthly subscription is chosen), to the day. You can see the expiration date of your subscription under My Account  > eResources & Publications.


Once I’ve purchased a LinkedLaw Deskbook or LinkedLaw Deskbook Library subscription, how do I access it?

Log into your account on the Minnesota CLE website and go to My Account > eResources & Publications.

If you've purchased an individual LinkedLaw Deskbook, click the VIEW button by the LinkedLaw Deskbook title in the "Active Online Publications" section.

If you've purchased a LinkedLaw Deskbook Library or LinkedLaw Deskbook PREMIUM Library subscription, click the ACCESS button in the "LinkedLaw Deskbook Library Subscription" section.


Will I always have access to the LinkedLaw Deskbooks?

Yes, you will always have access to the LinkedLaw Deskbook as long as you have an active individual subscription to the LinkedLaw Deskbook or if you have an active LinkedLaw Deskbook Library or LinkedLaw Deskbook PREMIUM Library subscription.


Do I need to purchase updates for my LinkedLaw Deskbook?

No, any update or new edition published during your subscription period is included at no extra charge and will be incorporated automatically and seamlessly into the LinkedLaw Deskbook.


Can I download the forms in a LinkedLaw Deskbook?

Yes, and we recommend that you download all of the forms in your LinkedLaw Deskbooks so you can use them without Internet access.


Why won't my eforms download when using Google Chrome? What should I do?

Google has started to block the download of certain types of content in its latest versions of Chrome. One option you have is to switch to a different browser. To continue using Chrome, you can try the following:

Copy and paste chrome://settings/content/insecureContent into your Chrome browser address bar. In the "Allow" section, click the Add button. An "Add a Site" pop-up box should appear. Enter in the box and click the Add button. You should now be able to open and download your eforms.