The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

About the rules
Advisory notes

History

Prior to 1968, evidence law largely consisted of common law precedent set by judges.

In 1968, the United States Supreme Court, under Chief Justice Earl Warren's leadership, asked the Advisory Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure to draft proposed rules of evidence in an effort to promote efficiency, predictability and to deter forum shopping.

Under the Rules Enabling Act of 1934, Congress authorized the judiciary to promulgate and enact rules, absent a rejection from Congress.

In 1973, the United States Supreme Court adopted the advisory committee's proposed rules of evidence. However, Congress, under the Rules Enabling Act, suspended implementation of the rules in political response to the Watergate scandal and the controversy around the rules involving evidentiary privilege.

In 1975, the Federal Rules of Evidence became federal law under President Ford's "An Act to Establish Rules of Evidence for Certain Courts and Proceedings".

Today, the Advisory Committee Notes remain an important tool that our courts use to interpret the Rules.