2020 Georgia Code
Title 24 - Evidence
Chapter 1 - General Provisions
Article 1 - Purpose and Applicability of Rules of Evidence
§ 24-1-1. Purpose and Construction of the Rules of Evidence

Universal Citation: GA Code § 24-1-1 (2020)

The object of all legal investigation is the discovery of truth. Rules of evidence shall be construed to secure fairness in administration, eliminate unjustifiable expense and delay, and promote the growth and development of the law of evidence to the end that the truth may be ascertained and proceedings justly determined.

(Code 1981, §24-1-1, enacted by Ga. L. 2011, p. 99, § 2/HB 24.)

Cross references.

- Purpose, Fed. R. Evid. 102.

Law reviews.

- For article surveying the law in Georgia on admissions, see 8 Mercer L. Rev. 252 (1957). For article, "An Analysis of Georgia's Proposed Rules of Evidence," see 26 Ga. St. B.J. 173 (1990). For article on the 2011 enactment of this Code section, see 28 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 1 (2011). For article, "Symposium on Evidence Reform," see 47 Ga. L. Rev. 657 (2013). For article, "Symposium on Evidence Reform: Searching for Truth in the American Law of Evidence and Proof," see 47 Ga. L. Rev. 801 (2013).


Editor's notes.

- In light of the similarity of the statutory provisions, decisions under former Orig. Code 1863, § 3670, former Code 1868, § 3694, former Code 1873, § 3747, former Code 1882, § 3747, former Civil Code 1895, § 5142, former Penal Code 1895, § 982, former Civil Code 1910, § 5728, former Penal Code 1910, § 1008, former Code 1933, § 38-101, and former O.C.G.A. § 24-1-2 are included in the annotations for this Code section.

Former O.C.G.A. § 24-1-2 capsulized the raison d'etre for the rules which govern trials. It was not limited by the statute's terms to civil trials. Holcomb v. State, 198 Ga. App. 547, 402 S.E.2d 520, cert. denied, 198 Ga. App. 898, 402 S.E.2d 520 (1991) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 24-1-2).

Balancing of competing rights.

- Trial court must weigh in balance the right of the state as society's representative to obtain the truth in the purest and simplest form against the right of a defendant to a trial as free as possible from improper influences. Montgomery v. State, 156 Ga. App. 448, 275 S.E.2d 72 (1980) (decided under former Code 1933, § 38-101).

Basic axiom of justice set forth in the former provisions obtained in all cases except when "it would be more unjust and productive of more evil to hear the truth than to forbear the investigation." Hollins v. State, 133 Ga. App. 183, 210 S.E.2d 354 (1974) (decided under former Code 1933, § 38-101).

Courts allowed broad discretion.

- Pursuant to the liberal rule granting the trial courts very broad discretion in permitting parties to offer additional evidence at any stage of the trial, and because leniency in this area was very unlikely to constitute an abuse of the court's discretion, the defendant failed to show that the trial court abused the court's discretion in permitting the state to reopen the evidence after the state had presented the state's case-in-chief and rested. Taylor v. State, 282 Ga. 502, 651 S.E.2d 715 (2007) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 24-1-2).

Public trial tends to ensure the truth by forcing those who testify to relate their memories without embellishment for fear that there may be those in attendance who could call the testimony into question if not truthful. As one party to the trial, the state is entitled to require common witnesses, both those charged and observers of the charged acts, to present their version of the occurrences in the presence of each other, thereby minimizing witness bias or the possibility of each defendant singly shifting blame to other absent defendants without opportunity of searching inquiry into the truth. Montgomery v. State, 156 Ga. App. 448, 275 S.E.2d 72 (1980) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 24-1-2).

Narrow construction of the attorney-client privilege, inasmuch as the exercise of the privilege results in the exclusion of evidence, comports with the view that the ascertainment of as many facts as possible leads to the truth, the discovery of which is "the object of all legal investigation." Tenet Healthcare Corp. v. Louisiana Forum Corp., 273 Ga. 206, 538 S.E.2d 441 (2000) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 24-1-2).

Impeachment evidence.

- Trial court's refusal to permit the introduction of a complaint in another proceeding to impeach a party was at odds with the principle in former O.C.G.A. § 24-1-2 (see now O.C.G.A. § 24-1-1) that the object of all legal investigation was the discovery of the truth, since the statute authorized the exclusion of relevant impeaching evidence and allowed the credibility of a crucial witness to go unchallenged; clearly, the subordination of the discovery of the truth to a mere procedural device was erroneous. Ballard v. Meyers, 275 Ga. 819, 572 S.E.2d 572 (2002) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 24-1-2).

Reopening case to admit impeachment evidence.

- Trial court did not abuse the court's discretion in reopening the evidence in a defendant's marijuana possession trial to allow the prosecutor to present impeachment witnesses who disproved a defense witness's claim that the witness did not know the defendant by showing that the witness was the defendant's girlfriend and the mother of the defendant's child. Sirmans v. State, 301 Ga. App. 756, 688 S.E.2d 669 (2009) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 24-1-2).

Admission of doubtful evidence.

- State policy was to admit evidence, even if the admissibility of the evidence was doubtful, because it was more dangerous to suppress the truth than to allow a loophole for falsehood. Gibbons v. Maryland Cas. Co., 114 Ga. App. 788, 152 S.E.2d 815 (1966) (decided under former Code 1933, § 38-101).

When the admissibility of evidence is in doubt, the Georgia rule favored admission and submission to the jury with any needed instructions. Georgia Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co. v. Latimore, 151 Ga. App. 786, 261 S.E.2d 735 (1979) (decided under former Code 1933, § 38-101).

Summary judgment determines only whether material fact exists.

- On summary judgment, a trial court determines only whether a material issue of fact exists, and such determination does not include "the discovery of the truth of such fact" or permit frustration of a plaintiff's constitutional right to a trial by jury "by inferring with the existence of other facts" from predicate evidence. Bruno's Food Stores, Inc. v. Taylor, 228 Ga. App. 439, 491 S.E.2d 881 (1997) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 24-1-2).

Reception of perjured evidence was never justice, no matter how salutary the end in view. Hollins v. State, 133 Ga. App. 183, 210 S.E.2d 354 (1974) (decided under former Code 1933, § 38-101).

Experiments made in and out of court sometimes make a practical demonstration of the question in issue, and are often the best evidence in elucidating the truth; there should be substantial and reasonable similarity in the facts proved in the case and the facts upon which the experiment is based, but the facts need not be exactly or in every particular similar; if the experiments are sufficiently similar to accomplish the purpose of assisting the jury to intelligently consider the issue of fact presented in regard to the special point in controversy, the evidence is admissible. Miller v. State, 53 Ga. App. 275, 185 S.E. 372 (1936) (decided under former Code 1933, § 38-101).

On cross-examination opposing party was entitled to a thorough and sifting examination of the witness and, when the defendant's alibi witnesses were under cross-examination, the trial court correctly refused to grant a mistrial with reference to an effort to impeach the witnesses as to whether or not the testimony was fabricated before trial since the object of all legal investigation was the discovery of truth. Mitchell v. State, 157 Ga. App. 683, 278 S.E.2d 192 (1981) (decided under former Code 1933, § 38-101).

Refusal to allow a witness to testify is a matter within the discretion of the trial court. Georgia Bldg. Servs., Inc. v. Perry, 193 Ga. App. 288, 387 S.E.2d 898 (1989) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 24-1-2).

Failure of the trial court to allow a witness to testify in a slip and fall premises liability suit constituted an abuse of discretion requiring reversal and a new trial since the exercise of discretion was based upon a misapprehension of the facts of the case, namely, the trial court's belief that the witnesses' existence had not been revealed to the opposing party. Georgia Bldg. Servs., Inc. v. Perry, 193 Ga. App. 288, 387 S.E.2d 898 (1989) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 24-1-2).

Blood test admitted in rebuttal.

- Ruling of the trial court to allow blood test to be admitted in rebuttal was entirely consistent with the statutorily recognized object of the rules of evidence. Gregg v. State, 216 Ga. App. 135, 453 S.E.2d 499 (1995) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 24-1-2).

Compliance with a subpoena implicit in a confidential settlement agreement.

- Provision that a party to a confidential settlement agreement may nevertheless testify or otherwise comply with a subpoena, court order, or applicable law is an implicit term in such a confidential settlement agreement. Barger v. Garden Way, Inc., 231 Ga. App. 723, 499 S.E.2d 737 (1998) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 24-1-2).

Trial court erred in concluding that a confidential settlement agreement, even if incorporated as another court's final order, can operate to preclude discovery by Georgia litigants of the parties to that confidential settlement agreement. Barger v. Garden Way, Inc., 231 Ga. App. 723, 499 S.E.2d 737 (1998) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 24-1-2).

District attorney request for declaratory judgment on admissibility of hearsay evidence.

- Supreme Court of Georgia reversed the judgment of the lower courts granting a district attorney a declaratory judgment because the district attorney did not have the right to bring a declaratory judgment action to obtain review of the probable cause decisions of magistrate judges at preliminary hearings or to challenge the admissibility of hearsay evidence at such hearings. Leitch v. Fleming, 291 Ga. 669, 732 S.E.2d 401 (2012) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 24-1-2).

Cited in State v. Brown, 333 Ga. App. 643, 777 S.E.2d 27 (2015); State v. Hamilton, 308 Ga. 116, 839 S.E.2d 560 (2020); Serdula v. State, Ga. App. , 845 S.E.2d 362 (2020).



- Admissibility of experimental evidence to show visibility or line of vision, 78 A.L.R.2d 152.

Admissibility of experimental evidence, skidding tests, or the like, relating to speed or control of motor vehicle, 78 A.L.R.2d 218.

Admissibility of evidence of family circumstances of parties in personal injury actions, 37 A.L.R.3d 1082.

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