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News Posted on July 14, 2017

Professor Imwinkelried Signatory to U.S. Supreme Court Brief on Evidentiary Privilege Issue

Professor Edward Imwinkelried is signatory to an amicus brief filed by 11 law professors urging the U.S. Supreme Court to review Hannstar Display Corporation v. Sony Electronics, Inc. and Sony Computer Entertainment LLC.

The case concerns Federal Rule of Evidence 501, which is the general provision governing privileges in federal court.  The second sentence of Rule 501 states that "in a civil case, state law governs privilege regarding a claim or defense for which state law supplies the rule of decision."  However, in a 2016 decision in Hannstar, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit applied federal privilege even though the only remaining claim was a state law cause of action.  At the outset of the case, the complaint included federal claims as well, but those claims were later dismissed.  

The brief, filed by a group of scholars in the areas of evidence, constitutional law, and civil procedure, relies in part on the legislative history of Rule 501 set out in volume 1 of Professor Imwinkelried's treatise, The New Wigmore: Evidentiary Privileges (3d ed. 2016). Besides Professor Imwinkelried, signatories include Professor Erwin Chemerinsky, the newly appointed dean of UC Berkeley School of Law.