This article is from the Legal Research FAQ, by Mark Eckenwiler with numerous contributions by others.
The admission and use of evidence in federal courts is governed
by the Federal Rules of Evidence (FRE or Fed. R. Evid. for short),
which can be found (among other places) in the appendix to Title 28,
**United States Code. The Rules deal with a variety of issues, such
- the general admissibility standard
- character testimony
- impeaching witnesses
- the hearsay rule and its exceptions
- authentication of writings
- privileges against testifying
- using copies or printouts instead of original documents/data files
Individual states have their own rules of evidence. Many of
these state codes vary from the federal rules, although the
federal Rules have proven increasingly influential as states
modernize their laws.
Anyone researching federal evidence law has a variety of
tools from which to choose. A broad-based (and therefore
inefficient) method of attack is to use **Federal Practice Digest
(3d, 4th), especially the key-number entries under the "Evidence"
heading. A better approach is to start with _Weinstein's Federal
Evidence_, a frequently updated treatise covering the Rules in
exhaustive detail (and providing extensive case citations). If
you know the Rule you need to research, you can go directly to
the Weinstein chapter with that number; otherwise, look up your
desired topic in the extensive index.
Other tools to supplement Weinstein are Moore's Federal
Practice (also with numbered chapters corresponding to the Rules)
and Wright & Miller, Federal Practice & Procedure (use the index
volumes to locate your topic). Once you have the number of the
Rule you're researching, you may also find the case annotations in
**U.S.C.A. (or **U.S.C.S.) helpful; consult the volumes at the end
of Title 28.
Finally, whenever using any of the above resources, DON'T
FORGET THE POCKET PART (or supplemental paperback volume).