Learning the Rules of Evidence the Hard, Slow Way

In earlier articles, we offered 25 rules of evidence in our order of importance. That leads to the question of how best to learn them? Memory is a big subject and important beyond learning what needs to be known about evidence. For this article, although we focus on evidence rules, we believe these principles also apply as well to learning rules of procedure, elements of the offense, punishments for the offense, the facts of the case, and the text of an opening statement of the case. The goal is for most of the trial to be defended without notes so the defender can pay closer attention to the reactions of the jurors, judge, prosecutors, and witnesses. Also, we find that the more we memorize something, the more the meaning of the passages becomes clear. For example, although we may read and understand the text of Rule 602 on personal knowledge, memorizing the text of the rule gives a deeper understanding.

The bigger picture about memorizing is the classical rhetoric element of Memoria. Memoria is more than just learning words by heart, because it requires the material be important enough to remember and contain an order or rhythm or rhyme or beauty that keep the words in our minds. The main sources for memory techniques are Aristotle, Quintilian, Augustine, Aquinas, and some modern memory gurus who enter contests and do tricks or who do psychological studies of memories (their names can be found in the bibliography). The explanations from evolutionary psychology help us understand why the rhetoricians—ancient, medieval, and modern—were right when they taught memory skills. From evolutionary psychology, we learn human beings are particularly strong at remembering different objects and distinguishing them and finding their way home but not so strong with abstractions such as ideas, names, and numbers.

This is how I imagine the process for the evolving hunters and gatherers: Jack and Jill are members of a hunting and gathering tribe. What they do well is walk a long way from camp and their other tribe members and find edible plants and potable water, eggs, grubs, and the occasional rodent. They see, hear, taste, smell, and feel these things. If anything is weird or scary, they will more likely remember it because they must avoid danger. I see them making up rhymes and songs to help them remember where they have been and what they found. What Jack and Jill do very well is remember plants and animals and geographic landmarks (to go out and get back) and how to avoid dangers—lions, tar pits, that sort of thing. “Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water . . .” My understanding from the evolutionary psychologists is we still have this same kind of memory.

The classic methods for memorizing are confirmed in their effectiveness by the modern studies of memory. That having been said, not everyone agrees about the best way to memorize or how it works. I think the best short text on how to memorize is still Quintilian’s Institutes of Oratory, Book 11, Chapter 2 (http://eserver.org/rhetoric/quintilian/11/chapter2.html#1). Once you have tasted this treat, I think you may find the whole of the bibliography we have included compelling.

What should we know about memory before we try to memorize?

Based on the readings in the bibliography, here are some conclusions about memory:

  • Anyone with a normal, undamaged mind can do it.
  • No one is particularly good at it without using special techniques, and slow learners may hold the memory longer.
  • Except for some children with eidetic memories and people with rare forms of mental disabilities, no one remembers everything.
  • People who claim “photographic memories” have always been found to use memory techniques.
  • Abstractions (like the numbers in the rules of evidence) are hard to remember.
  • We can best remember abstractions by:
    • Associating the images, words, letters, and numbers to a geographic location so we can go there and “see” what we have remembered—the loci method.
    • Turning the numbers into letters so we can turn them into words and images.
    • Hooking items together in a sequence like we would if we were observing them on a walk or in a room.
    • Hooking the words together in a weird manner so we can envision images.
  • Prose and poetry are hard to memorize and must be learned in a manner different from learning lists.
  • Memory is either short-term memory or becomes, later, long-term memory, and the two types are stored in different parts of the brain.
  • We all quickly forget most of what we learn in short-term memory if it is not moved to a different part of the brain.
  • The hippocampus processes those short-term memories into long-term memories and puts them in other parts of the brain. It is like a librarian for memories.
  • Once a memory becomes long-term, it is much more slowly forgotten and can be pulled up and polished off for reuse if it is needed.
  • We place things in long-term memory with repetition over a period of time. Repeating something once a week for 20 weeks is more effective than repeating it 20 times in one day.
  • We place things in long-term memory that are unusual or frightening.
  • We place things in long-term memory that are important to us.
  • Sleep will sometimes improve the memory of something we practiced the day before.

How to learn lists of things

We will next give a list of steps for learning the rules of evidence. I am not sure which of these works and if any of the steps can be cut out or expanded upon to the benefit of different individuals. In fact, some memory wizards argue in favor of skipping the first six steps completely and going directly to the repetition steps we use for memorizing poetry or prose. It reminds me of what a political campaign worker told me once: “Ninety percent of what we do in a campaign doesn’t help at all. It is just that we don’t know which ninety percent it is, so we have to do everything.”

This approach will be to learn the rule numbers and content corresponding to the Texas rules (to the extent they are different from the federal rules) and memorizing the text of the federal rules. This plan reflects our practice, because we go to trial in both state and federal courts, but probably a little more in the state court. The federal restyled rules are more clearly stated and easier to memorize. Also, we anticipate Texas will eventually adopt the restyled language.

Reviewing the lists

1.   Read the restyled federal rules of evidence. It was amended in 2011, and you can find it online. Although it is different in some ways from the Texas rules, it is more clearly stated and will help even if you only do state court defense.

2.   Read through all of the rules and annotations. The TCDLA publication Hampton, C., & Wischkaemper, P. (2009), ­TCDLA’s Annotated Texas Rules of Evidence and Rules of Appellate Procedure, Austin, Texas, is a good place to start. Do not try to memorize anything at this stage. Do not get bogged down in the annotations—in fact, skip over them if they are not from the United States Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeals, or your court of appeals. For instance, if you are from Brownsville, you may want to read the annotations for Corpus Christi and skip the rest. Also, do not get bogged down in the civil rules. Skip those dealing with trade secrets and subsequent remedial measures if you like. You may need them later as place-savers if you are learning the rules in sequence. Do not be disappointed after you do this if you do not feel you know anymore than when you started—we know that much of memory involves the unconscious, and you are beginning to form the basis for lodging these matters in the memory.

The major memory system for turning numbers into words

3.   Look over the major memory system for converting rule numbers to letters, then words, and then images. Here is a site that describes it: http://www.academictips.org/memory/majorsys.html. This is a controversial step because the learning curve is long and the application of the system is a lot of work. If you want help with ideas for turning certain numbers into the words, try http://www.phoneticmnemonic.com/lookup.php?num=103&submit=Lookup.

The loci method

4.   This originates from a story told over and over by the memory experts about a guy who left a building just before it collapsed. The falling building killed everyone eating at a feast inside. The lone survivor was able to remember everyone in the building by going, in his mind, from place to place so he could identify the dead. Everyone using a system seems to start here, and we will do the same. Using a loci method, link each article in the rules to a separate room in your house, office, or a street you may walk for your morning constitutional. Within that room or street, assign each rule a separate location related to an object. For rules with complex parts, assign each part an object. Rule 803 (hearsay exceptions) will need a room all its own, as will Rule 901(b) (authentication illustrations). The parts of Article 38 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure warrant a room.
 You may wish to apply the major memory system for remembering the rule numbers and place something that will help you remember the meaning of the rule at that location, but this is not critical at this stage because each of the rooms you use will have certain objects for you to survey as you go around the room. Because you know Rule 602 follows Rule 601, you have a basis for knowing that 601 is related to the lamp and 602 is related to the ape statue. For example, I use my study at home (I call it the Clarence Darrow room) as the place to memorize Article VI on witnesses. Each of the rules, 601 through 607 is identified with an object in the room (a desk lamp, a statue of an ape holding a human skull, a cane holder full of walking canes, an antique Chinese chair, an antique Chinese table, a framed picture of grand kids, and a large wooden gavel).
 Rule 608 has two parts that I have given two locations close together (a wall clock and the statue of the La Virgen). Rules 609 and 610 are a rug and a chair. Rule 611 has three parts: my fat bulldog, his basket of toys, and his leash. Rules 612 through 615 are a printer, a modem, a computer screen, and a keyboard. Then, for instance, to remember the most important of rules, 602, is associated with an ape holding a human skull. The ape is studying the skull so he can describe it later; he is gaining personal knowledge. The ape has his five fingers on his chin and is repeating each of the senses to try to remember qualities of the skull, one finger at a time: sight, smell, hearing, taste, and feel. So, thinking about this rule, I think of the statue. I remember Rule 602 is about personal knowledge and this involves the five senses.
 If I wish to get an image to connect the major memory system to the rule, I convert the rule number to an image. 602 is “chosen.” (In applying the major memory system described above, we say the 6 is sounded as “ch” or “sh,” the 0 is “s,” and the 2 is “n.”) So, I imagine Moses as one of God’s chosen people. That is Moses’ skull the ape is pondering. Later, if I need to connect an important case to the rule, I can get similar devices to remember the case connected to the rule. Other rooms in the house are dedicated to other articles or sections in the rules of evidence. The guest bedroom (we call the Eugene V. Debs room) has 24 items or places associated with 24 exceptions to the hearsay rule. The Dorothy Day living room has 13 locations or articles identified with 13 privileges in Article V: Privileges. The Big Bill Haywood kitchen has 13 locations related to relevancy. (Rule 404 has two locations for (a) and (b).) The rooms have names of historical people in case I need an image to associate. The rooms and their locations can be reused for memorizing other matters as well. This is called a memory palace, but you will want to build your own.

The linking method

5.   Using a linking method, connect the rules in order. In order to list the rules in order, you will want the number of the rule, so you will want to develop the major memory system for converting numbers to letters and creating an image in your mind. Learn all of the rule numbers in sequence, hooking them together in a sequence. Here are some examples:

  • 101 is “toast.” Think of animated slice of toast wearing a monocle in one eye, representing his title, and looking through a telescope with the other eye. This Texas rule clarifies where the rules of evidence do not apply—hearings under Rule 104, grand juries, habeas corpus, competency, bail, warrants, contempt—while these exceptions are in Federal Rule 1101.
  • The toast is attacked by 12 (102 is “dozen”) porpoises, who eat him up. Rule 102 is related to the porpoise or “purpose” of the rules.
  • One of the dozen porpoises is an “atheist” (103), and just like Judas, he betrays us by failing to make an objection and getting a ruling on the record.

These are the images that come to my mind with the numbers and rules, but yours may well be different. Under this method, you continue to link images through Rule 107. I would get around to Article II judicial notice last. Here are some starters for Articles IV, VI, and VIII:

  • 401 is “rust” and the rule defines relevant evidence. I use a dancing elephant as the memorable object to symbolize the abstraction of relevant evidence. So think of a dancing elephant covered with rust walking toward the front door of the courthouse.
  • 402 is “raisin,” admits relevant evidence and excludes irrelevant evidence. Think of a giant raisin blocking the door of the courthouse that swings aside when the rusty dancing elephant arrives. But it closes again quickly to keep out a crazy guy.
  • 403 is “résumé,” and the rule is prejudice and confusion, waste of time, and cumulative evidence. Think of a crazy guy, all dirty and smelly, carrying his résumé for a job above his head. He is confused and keeps repeating himself and we will not let him in the door of the courthouse. He climbs in a window with a razor in his pocket.
  • 404 is “razor,” and the rule is character evidence. Think about the crazy guy with a straight razor who runs up and cuts your throat because you forgot to request notice of his prior convictions under 404(b).
  • 601 is “chest.” Imagine an insane person and a child standing side by side beating their chests and bellowing that they want to want to testify. The rule is about competence to be a witness.
  • Imagine they are yelling at Moses. 602 is “chosen,” and the rule is personal knowledge. Think of Moses, one of the chosen people, stopping to use all five senses: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling.
  • 801 is “fist,” and the rule is the definition of hearsay. The prosecution witness is a police officer. He starts trying to say what the witnesses said at the scene and you run up to the stand and try to hit him in the mouth with your fist, but he grabs a fission bomb he has in his pocket.
  • 802 is “fission,” and the rule that excludes hearsay. The cop throws the fission bomb, blows up the courtroom, and the hearsay is destroyed. But your Ma is exposed to the radiation.
  • 803 is “fuse Ma,” and is the rule of hearsay exceptions. There are 24 hearsay exceptions. (The last federal exception has been transferred elsewhere.) Think of your Ma as actually being a Siamese twin or two Ma’s fused together as a result of the radiation exposure. She (they?) are wearing a dress with 24 pockets, and each one contains one of the exceptions.
  • Then you will want a hook to Rule 804 (“face sore”) when the declarant is unavailable.
  • You will likely want to invent your own images for those I have given above. Some of the other words I have used for other rules: 405 is “wrestle.” 609 is “chess bee.” 611 is “jaded.” 701 is “cast.” 702 is “cousin.” 805 is “fossil.” 901 is “pest.” 1006 is “Texas Sage.”

I know all of this sounds awkward. But do not expect to have to keep the clues forever. After a while, the major memory symbols, like a plaster cast into which the gold is poured, is broken away and not needed. I no longer think of Moses when I think of Rule 602 or rust when I think of Rule 402; my mind goes straight to the rule number.


6.   We do not learn phone number in groups of seven, but break them into groups of three and four. Chunking is not so much a memory technique like those described above as an organization of the material in a matter that groups similar items to help remember each in the group. The rules of evidence lend themselves to chunking. Here are some recommendations:

  • The most important evidence chunk is composed of Rules 602, 402, and 802. If you add the Confrontation Clause (with Crawford) to those, you will use them over and over during a trial. Much of the police officer testimony we hear in the courthouse should be excluded under these four objections. Evidence offered by a police officer witness for “background” are often violations of these rules.
  • Three easy ones used in every trial: 403 (prejudice), 615 (production of witness statement), 614 (The Rule).
  • Preserving Error: 103, Texas Rule of Appellate Procedure 44.2
  • Reputation: 404(a), 608, 803(21).
  • Crimes: 404(b), 609, 803(22).
  • Opinions: 701, 702, 704. Daubert objections.
  • Dealing with paper: 902, 803(6), 803(8), 901(10)
  • Dealing with doctors: 803(4), 803(18)
  • 803 exceptions (dealing with action at the scene): 1, 2, 3.
  • To keep things orderly: 611(a, b, and c), 1006.
  • Client’s statements outside of trial: 801(e), 803(24), Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Art. 38.21.
  • Dealing with snitches: 801(e)(2)(E), 508.
  • Spanish-language issues: 604, 1009, 901(6)
  • What the feds have and the state lacks: 1101, 807, 706, Fed CCP 26.2.

Drawbacks to the memory systems for learning lists

I find myself using these first six steps and this method over and over for memorizing lists. But, now for the bad news. Even after you have gone to the trouble of learning the method and memorizing all of the rules by number and in order, within a day or two, if you do not repeat them every day, you will forget them. There is the further problem that I find that by the time I have worked through a list, I am so tired of them that I cannot seem to force myself to do a daily repetition. The benefit I have discovered, though, is that even forgetting the rules by their numbers, there is a residual value. I will have gained a general familiarity of what the rules are and how to find them.

Sometimes, too, a rule will pop into my mind that I did not know I knew, and sometimes that happens in court when I really need it. There is no question that this method works well for parlor tricks, but the experts argue about its value for long-term learning. I still use the memory systems described above because I get worn out with plain repetition and return to the systems so I can make progress without being too bored of brute repetition. I also believe these methods can also be calming similar to other forms of meditation. So I return to them every so often to learn lists.

I have not, however, found these methods helpful for prose or poetry passages, or really even the text of the rules of evidence. I have tried using the methods for prose, but the examples are so long and contrived—forgettable, really—that with memory of prose of the text of the rules, I skip the methods and go to various types of repetition.

Learning poetry, prose, and texts of rules: the awful prospect of memorizing text

I think this is the hardest type of memory work, and apparently that is the consensus of the contestants in the memory competitions. The same guy who can remember 100 places of pi cannot memorize the Gettysburg Address. The methods just do not work as well for prose. On the other hand, memorized passages can be the most useful during different stages of trial. For the rhetoricians, the “treasury of eloquence” was an important part of the work of the orator. Any rule we read out loud to a judge in court should be on the list. Poems, like songs, may be a little easier because the rhyme and rhythm creates a structure that will clue us to certain words that follow. This may also explain why Homer keep mentioning “the rosy fingers of dawn”—the pattern helped him remember. Fortunately, we are not the only ones who need to memorize text, and there are several books that help with their own methods.

The most important passages to learn by heart

These are my suggestions in order of importance:

1.   “A witness may testify to a matter only if evidence is introduced sufficient to support a finding that the witness has personal knowledge of the matter.” Rule 602.

2.   Evidence if relevant if: (a) it has any tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence; and (b) the fact is of consequence in determining the action. Rule 401.

3.   “Hearsay” means a statement that: (1) the declarant does not make while testifying at the current trial or hearing; and (2) a party offers in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted in the statement. Rule 801.

4.   “Declarant” means the person who made the statement. Rule 801.

5.   “Statement” means a person’s oral assertion, written assertion, or nonverbal conduct, if the person intended it as an assertion. Rule 801. (For the Texas rule, substitute the word “expression” for “assertion” and study 801(c) “Matter asserted”).

6.   If a witness is not testifying as an expert, testimony in the form of an opinion is limited to one that is: (a) rationally based on the witness’s perception; (b) helpful to clearly understanding the witness’s testimony or to determining a fact in issue; and (c) not based on scientific, technical, or other specialized knowledge within the scope of Rule 702. Rule 701. (For Texas Rule, “opinions or inferences.”)

How to learn the text of the rule by heart

Here are some of the things I have tried for learning the text of the rules of evidence and sooner or later, something seems to work.

1.   Read all the commentary and cases about the rule you can find. Getting context helps in remembering the language of the rule.

2.   Write each sentence in the passage ten times.

3.   Diagram the sentences. http://homeworktips.about.com/od/englishhomework/ss/diagram_10.htm

4.   Strip the sentences down so you can see the subjects, verbs, and objects. That way even complex rules like 702 become manageable: Witness may testify, if knowledge will help trier; testimony is based on facts or data; testimony is product; and, expert has applied principles and methods.

5.   Read the passage into a recorder app on your phone in
a dramatic manner and then play it back to yourself, over and over. This also will let you know how you sound
so you can work on the fifth canon of rhetoric, pronun­tiatio.

6.   Put the passage to music with a familiar tune. (Also, good for pronuntiatio). Here is an example, to the tune of “Are you Sleeping, Brother John?”

A witness may testify
to a matter

only if evidence

is introduced

sufficient to support a finding

that the witness

has personal knowledge

of the matter.

Try it out; it almost works.

7.   Write a poem about the rule or rewrite the rule so it rhymes or repeats. Here is my entry:

A Sonnet to Rule 602

We see, or hear, or taste, or feel, or smell.
Your witness must have knowledge binding.
So lack you not evidence to support a finding
To know his knowledge is personal.
The witness may himself claim he knows the matter.
We trust the senses and teachings of Aquinas
Through five great windows come the truth
Into our minds that sorts the good from clatter.
Only experts need not heed this rule.
They opine on data loose and free
O, expert under Rule Seven Zero Three
May you be qualified and not play the fool.
Our queen of evidence, Six Zero Two
We trust the most that which starts with you.

8.   Use the passage in conversation or in court. Sometimes your friends will indulge you and sometimes it will arise naturally. Be aware that even though you can handily recite the rule when you are alone, sometimes under pressure, it will not come. This is the “blocking” described as one of the sins of memory in Schacter’s book in the bibliography. Do not be too concerned—the paraphrase will still be better than it would have been without the work.

9.   Practice at night and then recite in the morning after a night’s sleep.

10.  Even after you have it word for word, keep reciting it so it will not go away.

Is it worth it?

So is all this work worth it? Alexander Pope provides solace for forgetting the matters learned with so much effort:

Education is what is left after all that has been learnt is forgotten. . . .


How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot! The world forgetting, by the world forgot. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d. . . .

—From Alexander Pope’s Eloisa to Abelard

Bibliography of memorizing the rules of evidence

This bibliography is neither in alphabetical nor chronological order. Rather, we lists the different books about memory and evidence as if we were preparing a course on memory with many required texts, and then putting them in an order for the class.

The first we offer is probably the least informative, but it is easily accessible:

Lorayne, Harry, and Lucas, Jerry. The Memory Book: The Classic Guide to Improving Your Memory at Work, at School, and at Play, Ballantine Books (1996). This is an easy and practical way to start, with little history or theory. Lorayne was a magician who also played memory tricks. The book does have some practical application for learning how to remember phone numbers—something people once did before there were cell phones. Also, it has some value for putting names to faces, but I still seem to always call people named “Dan” by the name of “Stan” after using the method. There are also many blogs that provide summaries of memory techniques and have suggestions, such as http://memoryskills.blogspot.com/2009/07/major-system.html.

Next, for readers who do not need to rush into immediate practical application, we recommend Foer, Joshua. Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, New York: Penguin Press (2011). This is written by a journalist with no previous experience in memory competitions who took off a year to learn memory techniques and then successfully participated.

For you very serious sorts who want a history and a summary of the great memory teachers, we suggest Yates, Frances A. The Art of Memory, Chicago: University of Chicago Press (1961). I love this book, and the Modern Library declared it one of the top 100 nonfiction books of the 20thcentury. It surveys the great memory teachers of history, most of whom can be found for free online. Quintilian is a great place to start. http://eserver.org/rhetoric/quintilian/11/chapter2.html#1

Schacter, Daniel L. The Seven Sins of Memory: How the Mind Forgets and Remembers, New York: Houghton Mifflin Company (2001). This is the best book I have read explaining why some things are forgotten and others stick in the memory. This book may be the basis for much witness examination: All testimony not given by an expert under Rule 702 is based on personal knowledge under Rule 602. Personal knowledge is based on perceptions of the five senses, and these can only be described by the witness to the extent they are remembered. This book also explains why eyewitness testimony is so weak and why so many firmly believed recollections, and therefore testimony, is false. For the purposes of this article, remembering the rules of evidence, it is much easier to memorize material if we know what our mind is doing with the information. I have asked psychologists about Schacter, and they seem to recognize him, so this should be good Rule 803(18) material in the right cases.

Mlodinow, L. Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior. New York: Pantheon Books (2012). We really do not “record” anything in our memories like a video camera may. Rather, the human sensory system sends the brain about eleven million bits of information a second, but our brains handle between 16 and 50 bits a second. Our mind invents a story out of the selected information it can handle and then reinvents the story each time an event is recalled. For this reason, several eyewitnesses will all remember different events and the same eyewitness will remember the event differently every time he thinks about it, with greater changes over time. The unconscious is recognized from St. Augustine (though he does not call it that) to Marshall McLuhan as the best source of a memory palace. Everyone has the ability to infinitely (until we die or lose our minds, and then, according to Augustine, even afterward) recombine images to help us remember.

Vost, K. Memorize the Faith! (and Most Anything Else): Using the Methods of the Great Catholic Medieval Memory Masters, Manchester, New Hampshire: Sophia Institute Press (2006). This is to help Catholics learn and remember the facts of the religion. It develops the techniques of St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Albert the Great as they expanded upon Simonides (the guy the building did not fall on), and Aristotle and Marcus Tullius Cicero. Vost uses the method of loci and offers his version of a house and church as the places to put things you want to remember. I like the book as an example of putting the method to work on something a little more weighty than random numbers and lists of names.

Schulz, K. Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. (2010). Being wrong is about a misperception (Rule of Evidence 602) or the wrong opinion formed from a perception (Rule of Evidence 701). Schulz quotes (probably misquotes, actually, but it is not so important here) St. Augustine as writing “fallor ergo sum”—I err, therefore I am. She makes a virtue of mistakes and explains why the fallacies are part of everyone’s remembrances and reasoning.

Del Gaudio, J. How to Become Fluent in Spanish: Not for Beginners, Not Quick and Easy, but Really Effective, New York: Published by John V. Del Gaudio (2013). This book is about memorizing words and phrases in Spanish. Most helpful is his suggestion about memorizing and reciting dramatically a paragraph from a well-respected author, Gabriel García Márquez or Horacio Quiroga, once a month. Del Gaudio is a lawyer, so I imagine he uses these techniques in law practice as well. I especially like that he is not afraid to tell us how hard all of this is. I would just as soon know this up front, and for that reason, the title to this article admits this as well.

I keep a reference work on my Kindle: Texas Evidence Rules 2014 Courtroom Quick Reference, Summit Legal Publishing (2014). It has both Texas and federal rules texts (but no annotations), so I can flip back and forth between the text of the two rules. The TCDLA phone app has the same information. These are not meant to be used in court for objections—they are too slow and, hey, why are we going to all of this trouble to spend our time staring down at a phone. Besides, if your federal courts are like the ones in Brownsville, you can not get the phones and iPads into the courtroom anyway.

Hampton, C., and Wischkaemper, P. TCDLA’s Annotated Texas Rules of Evidence and Rules of Appellate Procedure, Austin, Texas: Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (2009); Brown, J., and Rondon, R. Texas Rules of Evidence Handbook, Houston, Texas: Jones McClure Publishing (2014). Goode, S., and Wellborn, O. Courtroom Handbook on Federal Evidence, Eagan, MN: Thomson Reuters (2014). These are the books I carry around and use in our monthly evidence seminars, although they are expensive and I do not always have the most recent volume of everything.

Evidence Treatises. Those multi-volumed tomes on evidence that nobody can afford can be a lot of fun, if you live somewhere with a law library. I have on my Kindle an early 1899 Wigmore: Greenleaf, S., Wigmore, J., and Harriman, E. A Treatise on the Law of Evidence. It is nice for some historical perspective. Both sets of the rules of evidence, Texas and federal, were adopted after I began practicing law and after I studied evidence with Mr. Sutton, so it is interesting to look at the common law that produced the Rules.

Some blogs worth browsing:





Ed Stapleton
Ed Stapleton
Ed Stapleton received his bachelors from the University of Texas in Plan II and his JD from the University of Texas School of Law in 1975. He has practiced law in Texas since he was licensed in January of 1976 and has accepted appointments to defend indigents since that time. He works with his daughter, Sara, in their firm of Stapleton & Stapleton in Brownsville. Ed served for a time as an Assistant Federal Public Defender in Brownsville and Fort Worth. A faculty member with the Trial Lawyers College and TCDLA psychodrama, Ed served as an Adjunct teacher in Trial Advocacy at the Texas Wesleyan School of Law. He is a co-author of the Spine at Trial published by the American Bar Association.
Sara Stapleton
Sara Stapleton
Sara Stapleton studied music at University of North Texas, graduating with a degree in voice performance from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. She taught music at Incarnate Word Academy in Brownsville before attending law school at Thurgood Marshall in Houston. While in college, she served an internship assisting in the voir dire of a capital murder case in Nashville, Tennessee, where she worked for one of the top federal death penalty lawyers in the country, Rick Kammen. Sara, who serves as a director for the Cameron County Bar Association, was the first intern at Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyer College near Dubois, Wyoming.

Ed Stapleton received his bachelors from the University of Texas in Plan II and his JD from the University of Texas School of Law in 1975. He has practiced law in Texas since he was licensed in January of 1976 and has accepted appointments to defend indigents since that time. He works with his daughter, Sara, in their firm of Stapleton & Stapleton in Brownsville. Ed served for a time as an Assistant Federal Public Defender in Brownsville and Fort Worth. A faculty member with the Trial Lawyers College and TCDLA psychodrama, Ed served as an Adjunct teacher in Trial Advocacy at the Texas Wesleyan School of Law. He is a co-author of the Spine at Trial published by the American Bar Association.

Sara Stapleton studied music at University of North Texas, graduating with a degree in voice performance from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. She taught music at Incarnate Word Academy in Brownsville before attending law school at Thurgood Marshall in Houston. While in college, she served an internship assisting in the voir dire of a capital murder case in Nashville, Tennessee, where she worked for one of the top federal death penalty lawyers in the country, Rick Kammen. Sara, who serves as a director for the Cameron County Bar Association, was the first intern at Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyer College near Dubois, Wyoming.

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