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17 Indiana Law Review 197 (1984)


With rare exceptions, Indiana evidence law progresses slowly and holds closely to the traditional concepts of the common law. This Survey Article collects the several important cases decided during the past year that continue this development of Indiana's common law of evidence. A general word of caution is in order concerning the Indiana appellate courts' evidence cases. Most evidence issues arise in criminal cases, in which convicted defendants allege error in the admission of evidence against them or in the exclusion of evidence offered in their defense. A ruling in favor of the defendant could result in the reversal of the conviction and the release of the accused, something the courts seem loath to allow. Thus, many rulings on points of evidence, particularly those where the court disposes of the issue in a paragraph or two, should probably be interpreted as harmless error cases-cases in which the evidence against the defendant is so strong that the effect of the disputed evidence is negligible. Although the court does not treat these as harmless error cases, many seemingly contradictory opinions, upholding both trial courts that allow the state to introduce disputed evidence and those that prevent the defendant from introducing such evidence, can only be explained rationally in this way.