Evidence Syllabus
Updated 7 January 2014

LAW 6330—Section 1233
Professor Pedro A. Malavet
Spring 2014
Tuesdays and Thursdays
3:00-4:50 p.m.
Room 285C

General Rules

The required class materials are: (1) Christopher B. Mueller and Laird C. Kirkpatrick, EVIDENCE UNDER THE RULES (7th. ed., Aspen Law & Business 2011; ISBN: 978-0-7355-0747-0); (2) Mueller & Kirkpatrick, 2013: Federal Rules of Evidence: With Advisory Committee Notes and Legislative History (Aspen Law & Business 2013; ISBN: 978-14548-2794-8). Please note that the new editions account for new cases in the confrontation area as well as the restyling of the Federal Rules of Evidence. Also, because the examination is “open rules,” you must purchase the designated Federal Rules of Evidence supplement. No other supplement will be allowed in the examination room.

Assignment Sheets. I will post weekly assignment sheets with specific assignments in the course website. I will attempt to structure assignments by class session. Students, especially those who sign-up for a particular class, should check with me to make sure what material will be covered. Students must read the assigned pages in the text as well as the pertinent Federal Rules of Evidence in your Supplement. The Notes and Comments in the Rules are extremely helpful and should likewise be included in your reading.

Office Hours: I will have regular office hours, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. —starting outside my classroom and slowly moving towards my office. I will also have office hours on Wednesdays from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. My office is in Room 337 in Holland Hall. You may also see me after class or schedule appointments, subject to my having available time. Take advantage of office hours as early as possible in the semester. Do not wait until the end of the course to review material and bring your questions to me. Review material regularly, at least as we finish different sections. Additionally, if you feel lost, or if you have doubts that cannot be resolved during class or during the period immediately following it, please do not hesitate to come and see me. Office time is also a good opportunity to explore matters that are not directly related to the material being discussed in class.

Office hours are also an opportunity for you to become more comfortable with my mandatory class-participation policy. You are encouraged to come by and talk to me during office hours before you sign up to participate in class, or in anticipation of your turn, to chat with me about the material. In the past, I have been pleased to see that students who dread class-participation have really done well by simply "talking it through" with me beforehand.

E-mail. You may communicate with me by E-mail, but only for administrative matters. My address is MALAVET@LAW.UFL.EDU. E-mail messages from students must include the student's full name, so that I may ensure that I am communicating with a member of the class. I rarely answer substantive questions by E-mail because I find it a very inadequate medium to discuss course content. I rarely reply to attendance-related messages, since I check that at the end of the semester.

Web Page & eLearning (Sakai). This Syllabus and the currently-available weekly Assignment Sheets will be posted on my web site (http://nersp.osg.ufl.edu/~malavet). Additionally, I have created an area in the site for extensive evidence notes and will updated these class materials during the semester, as I deem appropriate. I have also created a Sakai course page in which I have posted printouts of the Power Point slides that I used last semester and I will update these printouts as I make changes to the current pages. I do not place materials on reserve in the library and I will not print out the material posted on the web site. It is your responsibility to review the website and the Sakai course page regularly for updated class information; this is considered as part of your class participation for my course.

Testing: You will have to complete a practical project that will consist of drafting a motion in limine based on a fact pattern that I will design. This project will be assigned during the second half of the semester and will account for 10% of your testing score and it will be graded on a pass/fail basis. The remaining 90% of your testing score will be a points-graded, open-rule, proctored, written final exam will be given on the date set by the administration.

Open-Rules: “Open rules” means that you may only have with you during the examination your own Federal Rules of Evidence supplement. No substitutions will be allowed. Your supplement may be annotated with handwritten notes, but shall not have any attachments other than tabs to mark the location of specific material (the tabs may have on them numbers and the short titles of the referenced material and nothing more). Only handwriting may cover the blank spaces and the original printing on the supplement. The use of stick-on labels or paper, white-out or any other method to eliminate any of the original printing is prohibited. Other than the addition of handwritten notes and tabs, the supplement shall be in its original condition, no material may be added nor may any material be removed in any way. Violations of the University Student Code of Conduct, the College of Law Honor Code or of the exam rules should be reported to me before or during the examination. Violation of these rules shall result in a failing grade and in my referring the matter to the pertinent university or college authorities.

Grading and Class Participation: When determining your final grades, I will consider class participation, to adjust your testing score, in two ways:

  1. Minimum participation. (10% of the overall grade.) Each student will be required to participate in class discussion, probably at least two to three times during the semester -the exact number depends on the size of the class, and will be announced early in the semester- in order to meet minimum participation requirements. My basic system for class participation requires that you sign-up to participate in the discussion during an upcoming class, using forms that I will bring to class every week (or by going to the Sakai course page and using the "sign up" page or finding the session sign-up on the calendar if that can be made to work) ; volunteers will be chosen for each class session. Signing up should be done during the entire semester. Students may not sign up more than once every three weeks. The advantages of this system are that you know you are "on call," the material that we will be covering, and it only happens a few times during the semester. Students who sign-up, are called upon, and answer correctly, get a participation credit, if they are unprepared, they will suffer an automatic deduction. I may call upon students at random as well. Additionally, you may raise your hand and offer to answer questions at any time. But you must still comply with the minimum participation requirements, unless I instruct you otherwise.
  2. Quality of Participation. I will consider the quality of student participation and conduct to further adjust final grades, as I deem appropriate.
  3. Current Grading Scale. The University of Florida follows a letter grade and grade point average system with a maximum letter grade of “A” and a maximum GPA of 4.0. Please visit the University Registrar's site for information on the current grade scale. [https://catalog.ufl.edu/ugrad/current/regulations/info/grades.aspx]

Class Attendance and Conduct: Attendance is mandatory. Additionally, students arriving late or leaving the room during class are an undue distraction. I will take roll daily by passing around a sign up sheet. It is the student's responsibility to initial the sign-up sheet in the appropriate place whenever they are in class, i.e., the roll does not have to come to you, you must come to the roll. Failure to sign the roll will be treated as an unexcused absence. Each hour of class is treated separately for sign-up and attendance purposes, therefore, missing a two-hour meeting is treated as two absences. I will allow four (4) unexcused absences per semester on a no-questions-asked basis (provided however that none of them may occur during the last eight sessions of the semester). Additionally, I am willing to be flexible about allowing a few excused absences, late arrivals or early departures, for good cause —such as a doctor's appointment, child-care problem or job interview— provided that the good cause is brought to my attention beforehand or as soon as possible thereafter in the case of unanticipated occurrences. Excuses must be submitted in writing or via E-mail. Students will have no more than seven days after the time of the unanticipated occurrence to bring excuses to my attention, provided however that I will not accept any excuses offered after our last session of the semester. Signing an attendance sheet for a classmate, or having a classmate sign an attendance sheet for you shall result in administrative removal from the course. There will be seating chart for our course. Students are required to get their names on the chart and thereafter to abide by the seating arrangement designated therein.

Electronics in the Classroom. Pagers and cellular telephones should be turned off during class (unless you need to be “on call” for serious matters; in such cases, however, please put the phone or pager on “vibrate only” mode).

Laptop Use. Laptop computers are wonderful tools for class-related note-taking and reference, however, during class time it is inappropriate to use laptops for any other purpose. In addition to any other appropriate sanction, laptop use in class is a privilege and —pursuant to our faculty policy— I will suspend or rescind it, individually or collectively, if it is abused.

Professionalism in the Classroom. Naturally, you are all bound by the Regulations of the University of Florida, University Student Code of Conduct, the College of Law Honor Code and my rules. But more than obeying rules, classroom behavior is about showing proper professionalism. Proper conduct in the classroom is intended to encourage everyone to participate in, to derive benefit from, and ultimately to enjoy the class. It is perfectly acceptable, and indeed professionally required, that you demand professional behavior of your classmates in and out of class. If you see conduct that is unprofessional and that affects your quality of life in the classroom or at the college of law, you should privately approach the offending student and ask that they modify their behavior. If private discussion is impractical or unsuccessful, you should bring the matter to the attention of the instructor or an appropriate official at the College of Law or the University of Florida. You should do so privately, though not anonymously, but you are strongly encouraged to bring serious matters to my attention, or that of other pertinent authorities, as soon as possible, so that I, or they, may take appropriate measures.

Sanctions. Absences, tardiness and any other unprofessional conduct will be initially dealt with on a case-by-case basis as a matter of course grading, at the discretion of the instructor. The imposition of disciplinary measures will follow the process provided in the Regulations of the University of Florida, University Student Code of Conduct and the College of Law Honor Code. Serious class disruptions may result in expulsion from the disrupted session. Excessive absences -even if an excuse is offered*- may result in administrative removal of the offending student from the course or in a reduction of his/her grade. Absent waiver, other matters will be referred to the pertinent committee or administrative hearing, without prejudice to the instructor's normal grading discretion.

  • * While I would not reduce someone's grade for excessive excused absences, I might administratively remove them from the course, although I would ensure that this was done on a "passing" basis. I would do this if, in my judgment, the person has missed so much of the semester that he or she cannot really benefit from the course.

Religious Holy Days. Absences due to observance of a religious holy day shall be treated as excused absences. Please inform me via email.

The College of Law’s Policy on Religious Holy Days states: The College of Law respects students’ observance of major religious holidays. If an instructor has an attendance policy limiting the number of absences, reasonable alternative means shall be established by the instructor to satisfy the attendance policy and accommodate the religious obligations of the student.

The University of Florida Policy on Religious Holy Days is as follows: Students, upon prior notification to their instructors, shall be excused from class or other scheduled academic activity to observe a religious holy day of their faith. Students shall be permitted a reasonable amount of time to make up the material or activities covered in their absence. Students shall not be penalized due to absence from class or other scheduled academic activity because of religious observances. If a faculty member is informed of or is aware that a significant number of students are likely to be absent from his or her classroom because of a religious observance, a major exam or other academic event should not be scheduled at that time. A student who is to be excused from class for a religious holy day is not required to provide a second party certification of the reasons for the absence.

Exam Make-up and accommodation. Exam make-ups will be as authorized by the Professor Malavet. Exam accommodation is managed by the Levin College of Law’s Office of Student Affairs. Please visit theOffice of Student Affairs’ page to review the College’s policies in this regard: http://www.law.ufl.edu/student-affairs/current-students/academic-policies#11.

Classroom Accommodation. Students requesting classroom accommodation must first register with the Dean of Students Office. The Dean of Students Office will provide documentation to the student who must then provide this documentation to the professor when requesting accommodation. Students are strongly encouraged to communicate with their professor and with the College of Law’s office of student affairs to ensure that they receive proper accommodation.