Legal Memorandum: Exclusion of otherwise relevant evidence

Issue: Under the New Mexico Rules of Evidence, what determines when may a court exclude otherwise relevant evidence?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: ; Keyword(s): Evidence; Relevancy; Exclusion; Rule 403
Jurisdiction: New Mexico
Cited Cases: 127 N.M. 397
Cited Statutes: Rule 11-403 NMRA
Date: 11/01/2015

The New Mexico Rules of Evidence provide for the exclusion of relevant evidence in order to avoid prejudice or confusion or to prevent a waste of time.  Specifically, the rule provides

[t]he court may exclude relevant evidence if its probative value is substantially outweighed by a danger of one or more of the following: unfair prejudice, confusing the issues, misleading the jury, undue delay, wasting time, or needlessly presenting cumulative evidence.

Rule 11-403 NMRA (2015).

Determining relevancy is generally committed to the broad discretion of the trial court, as the courts have noted upon review.

[C]ourts have repeatedly recognized that the trial court is in the best position to evaluate the effect of trial proceedings on the jury.  For this reason, the trial court is vested with broad discretion to determine under Rule 11-403 whether the probative value of evidence is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice, confusion of the issues, or misleading the jury. We will not disturb the trial court’s decision on appeal unless that discretion is abused.  “We will find an abuse of discretion when the court’s decision is ‘without logic or reason, or that it is clearly unable to be defended.'”.


Norwest Bank New Mexico, N.A. v. Chrysler Corp., 127 N.M. 397, 981 P.2d 1215 (N.M. Ct. App. 1999) (citations omitted).


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