The Supreme Judicial Court yesterday announced the release of the 2013 version of the Massachusetts Guide to Evidence. This fifth annual revision of the Guide adds dozens of new cases decided during the past year, as well as several new sections and a summary of the rapidly changing law on hearsay and the confrontation clauses.
The Guide is one of the most useful publications to come onto the Massachusetts legal scene in the last few years. (DISCLAIMER: I have been privileged to participate in the preparation and revision of the Guide as a member of the Executive Committee.) First published in 2009, the Guide collects the existing law of evidence in the Commonwealth, arranged in a format modeled on the Federal Rules of Evidence. There are more exhaustive and scholarly evidence treatises, such as the Liacos classic now updated by Mike Avery and Mark Brodin, but the Guide is the book that the Massachusetts judges are using in the courtroom.
Lawyers can purchase the official version of the Massachusetts Guide to Evidence from the Flascher Judicial Institute, or download the content for free from the Supreme Judicial Court’s website. Both trial and appellate court judges have begun citing the Guide in their written opinions, and the number of citations is increasing rapidly. Since Massachusetts has famously refused to adopt formal rules of evidence, trial lawyers have lacked a single source for the Commonwealth’s evidence law. This Guide fills that gap, serving as an invaluable reference for anyone who practices in the courts of the Commonwealth. (SECOND DISCLAIMER: I have no financial interest in whether anyone buys the book or not, but I certainly wouldn’t want to go into court without it.)