Whether a proponent has met the requirement to “admit other evidence for the content of a document” is determined by the court. However, in a jury trial, the jury decides on the following questions: “(i) An alleged writing, recording or photograph has already existed; (ii) any other writing, photograph or photograph taken at trial is the original; or (iii) other substantive evidence accurately reflects the content. See Federal Rules of Evidence, Rule 1008. Since most information is stored electronically, the original of an electronically stored piece of evidence contains an archive or printout of that information. If a party wishes to enter a series of emails as evidence, they can print the emails and use the print as an original to meet the best evidence rule. In addition, duplicates of written, recorded or photographic evidence are also admissible in court, unless a genuine question is raised as to the authenticity of the original or it is unfair to allow duplicates due to the particular circumstances. See Federal Rules of Evidence, Rule 1003. For example, a party may enter into a copy of a lease as part of a dispute between landlord and tenant. However, if the other party claims that the submitted copy of the lease is fraudulent, the best evidence rule requires that the original lease be presented in such a scenario. The best evidence rule applies when a party wishes to admit the contents of a letter, recording or photo in a negotiation, but the original is not available.
In the event that the original is not available, the party must provide a valid reason for doing so. If the original document is not available and the court finds the reason admissible, the party may use secondary evidence to prove the content of the document and have it as admissible evidence. The best evidence rule applies only when a party attempts to prove the content of the document to be admitted as evidence. The best evidence rule states that original documents must be presented as evidence, unless the original is lost, destroyed or otherwise inaccessible. According to the definitions in the Federal Rules of Evidence, writing is “letters, words, numbers or their equivalent, which are established in any form.” Photographs and photographs are defined in the same way. The best evidence rule applies only if the party presenting evidence attempts to prove the content of the written, recorded or photographic evidence, but does not apply if a party is only attempting to prove an event; see Federal Rules of Evidence, Rule 1004. For example, a witness may testify that he made the payment without giving a receipt for the payment as proof. In such a case, the witness does not try to prove what is written on the receipt, but simply says that he made a payment. While payment can also be proven by the receipt as proof, the best proof rule does not require the receipt to be seized.