Using Writing to Learn about Evidence Rules, Trial Practice, and Advocacy

Professor Sue Bryant

Professor Sue Bryant draws on Writing Across the Curriculum concepts in designing writing-based problems for her class in Evidence. Recently she assigned a motion in limine, which required students to select a problem in their Evidence casebook (involving a rule of evidence that they found confusing) and to draft a memo supporting or opposing admission of disputed evidence. Professor Bryant developed this research and writing project to promote understanding of how the ambiguity of evidentiary rules are resolved by case law and how to use case law interpreting the rules to make persuasive arguments to a court. The assignment also helps students learn a particular evidentiary rule in greater depth and reinforces how lawyers seek rulings pre-trial through motions in limine to help structure their trial work.

A related application of this assignment is to assign it across the semester to groups of students, and to cast these students, now "experts" on the rule of evidence they have written about, in the role of judge to decide the evidentiary question when it becomes the problem of the day in class.