The Georgia legislature passed HB 24 on the last day of the 2011 legislative session to modernize Georgia's nearly 150-year-old evidence code. The new code largely tracks the Federal Rules of Evidence and applies to any motion, hearing or trial in Georgia's state courts on or after January 1, 2013.
Importantly, the new evidence code brings Georgia law in line with the Federal Rules of Evidence pertaining to hearsay. It removes anachronisms, such as res gestae, and codifies existing case law addressing modern technologies, such as digital records.
The updates to Georgia's Civil War-era evidence code will likely provide greater clarity and predictability for litigants and lawyers appearing in Georgia trial courts. Georgia now joins the substantial majority of states that base their evidence codes on the Federal Rules of Evidence, which resulted from an in-depth drafting process that involved input from the judicial and legislative branches, as well as academia. Since their promulgation in 1975, the Federal Rules of Evidence have been construed by federal courts in thousands of cases across the country. Thus, litigants in Georgia will have the benefit of drawing on a large body of well-defined case law.
The wholesale revision to the evidence code resulted from an approximately 20-year effort. Broad-based support from groups as diverse as the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the Georgia Trial Lawyers Association, the Council of Superior Court Judges, the State Bar of Georgia, and the Medical Association of Georgia came together in favor of the updated code.