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NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL
Letter to the Editor
December 21, 1998


'GOOD ENOUGH' NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR FEDERAL RULES


by

Paul R. Rice

IT IS UNFORTUNATE that the leadership of the Federal Rules of Evidence Advisory Committee sees imperfect rules and says, "That's good enough." It is disheartening to know that inconsistent, confusing and inadequate evidence rules must continue to be taught to law students because the committee is willing to settle for comfortable mediocrity.

An accomplished academic such as Professor Daniel Capra, the committee's reporter, should expect more. He insists, however, that "a new and elegant code of evidence with a perfect structure, one that would be ever so much easier to teach," would cost far too much. ["Evidence: Proposed Rules," NLJ, Nov. 30.] Too much in terms of what? The committee members' time? Ill-advised rules? Surely the committee's collective wisdom can minimize the latter.

Many rules in that code have needed attention for decades. The revisions that are proposed by the Advisory Committee are designed simply to make the existing code work. These changes will only marginally make the code better.

The Advisory Committee cannot be allowed to hide behind its unsubstantiated fear that any significant revision would create more problems than it would resolve. That attitude would have resulted in the evidence code never having been adopted.

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