PLE301 - Evidence and the Litigation Process

Outline info
Last revision date 2018-04-10 15:45:41.828
Last review date 2018-04-10 15:45:55.078

Subject Title
Evidence and the Litigation Process

Subject Description
Students learn the basic principles of the law of evidence and techniques for its introduction in the hearing process. They are first introduced to the general procedure by which a case reaches the criminal and civil courts and the trial process. They examine the various forms and purpose of seeking admissibility of evidence; the exceptions to the rules of general admissibility; the evidentiary rules relating to the testimony of witness and the introduction of real and demonstrative evidence.

Credit Status
This is a credit course applicable towards the Paralegal Certificate Program offered through the Faculty of Continuing Education and Training.

Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this subject the student will be able to:

1.     Describe the adversarial process, the role of judges, counsel, and affected parties

2.     Explain the legal burden of proof in criminal matters, civil matters and before administrative tribunals

3.     Define the major procedural steps in different kinds of litigation, from commencement to appeals, naming parties, representative parties, disclosure, motions and other pretrial matters, trial process, costs and sentencing submissions, and post-judgment procedures and appeals

4.     Given a set of facts about a hearing and an order, explain whether any basis for appeal exists

5.     Explain the basic rules regarding admissibility (e.g., relevance, materiality, weight, prejudicial effect and probative value)

6.     Apply statutory and common law rules of evidence to a set of facts to determine basic admissibility

7.     Determine whether proposed evidence should be allowed or disallowed as an exception to the basic rules (e.g., improperly obtained, privilege, hearsay, lay opinion, expert opinion)

8.     Categorize evidence as testimonial, documentary, real evidence; direct and circumstantial; character and opinion; similar fact evidence, admissions, or confessions

9.     Describe situations in which expert testimony is permitted and the statutory requirements to use an expert’s testimony

10.   Describe the process of compelling witnesses

11.   Assess potential problems in preparing and presenting evidence at a hearing

12.   Present a simple legal argument on admissibility based on a reported evidence case or hypothetical set of facts

13.   Develop an attitude of professionalism, as evidenced by an ability to meet deadlines, complete assignments and perform tests and in-class assignments as scheduled.

Essential Employability Skills
Communicate clearly, concisely and correctly in the written, spoken and visual form that fulfils the purpose and meets the needs of the audience.

Respond to written, spoken, or visual messages in a manner that ensures effective communication.

Apply a systematic approach to solve problems.

Use a variety of thinking skills to anticipate and solve problems.

Locate, select, organize, and document information using appropriate technology and information systems.

Analyze, evaluate, and apply relevant information from a variety of sources.

Show respect for diverse opinions, values, belief systems, and contributions of others.

Interact with others in groups or teams in ways that contribute to effective working relationships and the achievement of goals.

Manage the use of time and other resources to complete projects.

Take responsibility for one's own actions, decisions, and consequences.

Cheating and Plagiarism
Each student should be aware of the College's policy regarding Cheating and Plagiarism. Seneca's Academic Policy will be strictly enforced.

To support academic honesty at Seneca College, all work submitted by students may be reviewed for authenticity and originality, utilizing software tools and third party services. Please visit the Academic Honesty site on for further information regarding cheating and plagiarism policies and procedures.

All students and employees have the right to study and work in an environment that is free from discrimination and/or harassment. Language or activities that defeat this objective violate the College Policy on Discrimination/Harassment and shall not be tolerated. Information and assistance are available from the Student Conduct Office at

Accommodation for Students with Disabilities
The College will provide reasonable accommodation to students with disabilities in order to promote academic success. If you require accommodation, contact the Counselling and Disabilities Services Office at ext. 22900 to initiate the process for documenting, assessing and implementing your individual accommodation needs.

All Module One and Two Courses

It is your responsibility to ensure that program requirements and course prerequisites as outlined are met. Prerequisites are included for your academic protection. Course content and your instructor's teaching assumes that students are academically prepared and instruction will proceed accordingly. Students lacking prerequisites not only jeopardize their own ability to succeed but present unnecessary interruption. If you lack appropriate prerequisites (or advanced standing for the prerequisite course) you may be asked to withdraw or transfer to a more appropriate course with the risk of academic/financial penalty.

Topic Outline
   A. Adversary system
   B. Counsel and Parties
   C. Judges
   D. Jury
   E. The Trial and Hearing Process
           1. Commencement of proceeding
           2. Parties
                  i. Identifying
                  ii. Capcity
           3. Steps in a proceeding
                  i. Pleadings
                  ii. Disclosure
                 iii. Motions
                 iv. Trial
                  v. Decision/judgement
                 vi. Submissions as to cost/sentence
                 vii. Ensuring a matter has been disposed of
   F. Basis for Appeals
   G. Burden of Proof
   H. Presumptions
   I.  Judicial Notice

   A. Categories of Evidence
            1. By its form
                 i.  testimonial
                 ii.  real
                iii. documentary
            2. By its purpose
                 i. direct
                 ii. circumstantial
   B. Admissibility of Evidence - Basic Principles
            1. Relevancy
            2. Weight
            3. Prejudicial Effect versus Probative Value
  C. Exceptions to the General Rules of Admissibility
            1. Character of Evidence
            2. Hearsay
            3. Opinion of Evidence
            4. Privilege
            5. Improperly Obtained Evidence
                 i. Charter violations
                 ii. Confessions
            6. Civil Settlement Discussions

     A. Calling witnesses
            1. competency
            2. compellability
            3. compelling witnesses to attend
     B. Examining Witnesses
     C. Credibility
     D. Similar Fact Evidence

Mode of Instruction
Students learn through interactive classroom lectures, discussion and group problem solving.

It is the student's responsibility to save documents, articles and notes that the instructor has provided on Blackboard or in class. Students will not be able to access Blackboard as of the last day of the student's class.

Prescribed Texts
Cochman, Gulycz and Kelly, Rules of Evidence: A Practical Approach, Emond Montgomery. 2016. ISBN#9781552394809

Reference Material

Promotion Policy

Grading Policy
A+ 90%  to  100%
A 80%  to  89%
B+ 75%  to  79%
B 70%  to  74%
C+ 65%  to  69%
C 60%  to  64%
D+ 55%  to  59%
D 50%  to  54%
F 0%    to  49% (Not a Pass)
EXC Excellent
SAT Satisfactory
UNSAT Unsatisfactory

For further information, see a copy of the Academic Policy, available online ( or at Seneca's Registrar's Offices.

Modes of Evaluation

Midterm Test   35%
Assignment   30%
Final Examination   35%

Materials permitted into tests and exams are at the discretion of the instructor.
Students must attain a grade of at least 50% to pass the course.

Please Note
  • Exams are evaluated on subject knowledge as well as correct language usage, organization, and mastery of the subject.

Absenteeism and Tests
  • Students should be aware that absenteeism will impact on their ability to achieve satisfactory grades.
  • If you miss a test, you must provide the reason in writing to the instructor prior to the next scheduled class. If your reason is accepted, you will be permitted to write a make-up test. Otherwise, you will be given a zero for the test. You must submit an original doctor’s certificate identifying the date, length of time of expected absence and the specific reason for your absence, or other appropriate documentation.

Academic Honesty

Students at Seneca College are expected to be honest and forthright in their academic endeavours. When students cheat on an examination, steal the words or ideas of another, or falsify their research results, it corrupts the learning process. A Seneca College degree, diploma or certificate signifies to society mastery of a set of defined learning outcomes in a designated field of study. If academic credit is obtained dishonestly, the value of every graduate's diploma in the field of study is diminished, as is the reputation of the college as a whole.

Penalties for Academic Dishonesty

The penalty for a first offence is a grade of '0' on the assignment or examination. The penalty for the second offence is expulsion for a time period determined by the Academic Honesty Committee, normally for a minimum of three terms. For further information refer to the policies section of the Seneca College student handbook, or to the following website:

Approved by: Sandra Noble