Ballou v. Henri Studios, Inc. Case Brief

Summary of Ballou v. Henri Studios, Inc., 656 F.2d 1147 (1981)

Facts: P claimed that due to the negligence of D’s employee driver, P’s spouse was killed in the accident. D tries to introduce into evidence blood test of P’s spouse shortly after death showing that spouse was drunk. P in motion in limine tries to suppress this evidence and presents the testimony of a nurse that the spouse wasn’t drunk. The trial judge excluded the blood test as unreliable evidence.

Issue: Was the exclusion valid?

Holding: NO

Rationale: Under FRE 403, the Judge has to discretion to exclude evidence if its probative value substantially outweighed by unfair prejudice. The judge has to ask himself that if the evidence is believed by a jury, would its probative value be substantially outweighed by its likelihood of causing unfair prejudice. But here the judge stepped beyond its power and started determining the credibility and reliability of the evidence. That is a job for the jury to decide whether evidence credible and reliable. FRE 403 does not give the judge this power. Reversed.

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