Relevant Evidence and Classifications

The Supreme Court’s Committee on Rules of Evidence has published a proposed addition to the official comment to Pa.R.E. Rule 401 (“Test for Relevant Evidence”). The new comment would state that:

“Generally, evidence of a person’s race, sex, gender identity or expression, religion, national origin, immigration status, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, marital status, socioeconomic status, or political affiliation is irrelevant and inadmissible. See Pa.R.E. 402 (evidence not relevant is not admissible). Such evidence may also be subject to analysis under Pa.R.E. 403, concerning unfair prejudice.”

The report on the proposed change explains that the original catalyst for the change was a recommendation on the admissibility of evidence of immigration status, and the report explains why immigration status has usually been considered to be legally irrelevant. The committee then decided to address the more general issue of class prejudice and discrimination, drawing on other legal guidelines to create a more expansive list of classes protected from discrimination by public policy.

The deadline for comments is June 4, 2019.

“Proposed Amendment of the Comment to Pa.R.E. 401,” 49 Pa.B. 2218 (5/4/2019).

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