Legal Memorandum: Relevance and Authenticity of Evidence

Issue: Under New York law, what is the connection between relevance and the authentication of evidence?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Relevance and the authentication of evidence; Constructive possession
Jurisdiction: New York
Cited Cases: 79 N.Y.2d 561; 565 N.Y.S.2d 511; 138 F. Supp. 2d 357; 527 N.Y.S.2d 74; 790 F.2d 1315; 538 N.Y.S.2d 357; 584 N.Y.S.2d 282; 49 N.Y.2d 48; 424 N.Y.S.2d 157
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 07/01/2006

As noted by a leading authority on evidence, an item of evidence is relevant, “only if it is logically related, either directly or through an inferential chain of proof to at least one of the formal elements of the charges made or defenses raised in the case.”  Blue Cross & Blue Shield, Inc. v. Phillip Morris, Inc., 138 F. Supp. 2d 357, 365 (E.D.N.Y. 2001).  Evidence is “material” only if it is relevant to “any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action.”  Id.

Of particular significance, when evidence is not properly identified or authenticated as having a connection with both (1) the particular time frame at issue; and (2) a party to the proceeding on an element in issue, such evidence is insufficiently probative and hence, irrelevant and immaterial.  See Frankel v. Jorling, 148 A.D.2d 776, 538 N.Y.S.2d 357, 359 (3d Dept. 1989) (no connection demonstrated between documents and time period at issue and thus irrelevant); Merritt v. City of Long Beach, 139 A.D.2d 574, 527 N.Y.S.2d 74, 75 (2d Dept. 1988) (same); Mayer v. Angelica, 790 F.2d 1315, 1338-39 (7th Cir. 1986) (evidence should have been excluded because no connection established between documents at issue and defendant); see also Fed. R. Evid. 901, Advisory Committee Notes, 56 F.R.D. 183, 332 (1972) (“Authentication and identification represent a special category of relevancy.”); 5 Weinstein on Federal Evidence § 901.02[2] (“Evidence cannot have […]

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