CHAPTER 13: THE RULES OF EVIDENCE - Table of Contents
13.1 - General Overview • 13.2 - Judicial Notice and Presumptions • 13.3 - Relevancy • 13.4 - Privileges • 13.5 - Witnesses • 13.6 - Opinions and Expert Testimony • 13.7 - Hearsay • 13.8 - Exhibits • 13.9 - The Use of Other Offenses and Acts • 13.10 - Selected Special Rules • 13.11 - Colorado Rules of Evidence
13.2 JUDICIAL NOTICE AND PRESUMPTIONS
Usually, evidence is presented to the jury or other fact-finder through the testimony of witnesses and exhibits introduced through those witnesses. Sometimes, this process can be made more efficient through the use of judicial notice and presumptions.
Judicial notice occurs when a judge dispenses with the need for a party to prove a particular fact because the fact is "not subject to reasonable dispute" either because it is a fact that is generally well known, or a fact that is capable of accurate and easy determination. It is generally well-known that Aspen leaves turn yellow in the fall, so an attorney can ask the judge to take judicial notice of that fact and dispense with the need to bring in a biologist to establish that fact. It is easy to determine whether there was a full moon on a particular date, so an attorney can bring in a Farmer's Almanac, ask the judge to take judicial notice of the fact, and dispense with the need to ring in an astronomer to testify.
A presumption occurs when we decide that the proof of one fact also tends to prove some other fact. A commonly used presumption is that a person whose blood alcohol level is above a certain amount is under the influence. If the prosecution proves the required blood alcohol level, the jury is entitled to presume that the person was under the influence. In criminal cases, presumptions are not conclusive; the jury is free to reject the connection between the blood alcohol level and the degree of intoxication. In civil cases, a presumption may be either conclusive or not, depending on the particular situation.
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