November 10

Best Evidence: what it means and what it doesn’t.


I’m hearing the phrase ‘best evidence’ thrown around a bit today. Let’s have a brief chat about what that actually means. 

It doesn’t meant that this is the best proof of something. 

It means that the original document has been destroyed and that this is the best, most reliable copy or version of it that’s available. 

So you don’t say, “This transcript is the best evidence,” and mean that it’s the best proof of what happened on a phone call. In fact, in legal terms, that’s pretty much gibberish.

In civilian terms, the best proof of what happened would be a good quality recording of the conversation. Like the one Ukraine probably has. Or maybe NSA. Who knows?

But the legal term ‘best evidence’ has nothing to do with the transcript or statements about the phone conversation. It’s meaningless. ‘Best evidence’ only applies when you’re trying to get a copy of a document into evidence instead of offering the original.

They think you don’t know. Prove them wrong. 



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