By Chris Chambers Goodman
There has been notable activity in several areas of California evidence law in 2019. The Legislature added and revised a handful of sections of the California Evidence Code, and the California Supreme Court interpreted more than a dozen sections. Two significant trends emerge: (1) narrowing interpretations of policy exclusions and expanding the scope of hearsay exceptions to permit broader admissibility in many areas, while (2) continuing to enhance protections in specific areas such as for human trafficking victims and therapy patients.
The United States Supreme Court issued only one significant evidence decision, Biestek v. Berryhill,1 where the Court held that a vocational expert’s refusal to provide underlying data to support her market analysis did not categorically mean that the opinion was not supported by substantial evidence.2 The court recognized that the substantial evidence analysis must be done on a case-by-case basis. Justices Sotomayor, Gorsuch and Ginsburg dissented, reasoning that the expert had not offered information about the basis for her testimony,3 and thus the government failed to satisfy its burden of producing substantial evidence.4