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Rule 103. Rulings On Evidence


(a)  Preserving a Claim of Error.  A party may claim error in a ruling to admit or exclude evidence only if the error affects a substantial right of the party, and:

(1) if the ruling admits evidence, a party, on the record:

(A) timely objects or moves to strike; and

(B) states the specific ground, unless it was apparent from the context; or

(2) if the ruling excludes evidence, a party informs the court of the substance of the evidence and the basis for its admissibility by offer of proof, unless these matters were apparent from the context.

(b)  Not Needing to Renew an Objection or Offer of Proof.  Once the court rules definitively on the record - either before or at trial - a party need not renew an objection or offer of proof to preserve a claim of error for appeal.

(c) Court’s Statement About the Ruling; Directing an Offer of Proof. The court may make any statement about the character or form of the evidence, the objection made, and the ruling. The court may direct that an offer of proof be made in question-and-answer form.

(d) Preventing the Jury from Hearing Inadmissible Evidence. To the extent practicable, the court must conduct a jury trial so that inadmissible evidence is not suggested to the jury by any means.

(e) Taking Notice of Plain Error. A court may take notice of a plain error affecting a substantial right, even if the claim of error was not properly preserved.


2016 NHRE Update Committee Note

The amendment made by supreme court order dated April 20, 2017, effective July 1, 2017, made stylistic and substantive changes to the rule.

The language of New Hampshire Rule of Evidence 103(a)(2), as amended in 2016, differs from the language of Federal Rule of Evidence 103(a)(2). The language of the federal rule preserves for appellate review those rulings that were apparent from the context even if the specific grounds for the objection are not contained in the record. This is a departure from New Hampshire law. In New Hampshire, as is expressed in State v. Noucas, 165 N.H. 146, 152 (2013), preservation of issues for appellate review requires trial counsel to articulate specific grounds for a trial objection.

The language of New Hampshire Rule of Evidence 103(b) is new and mirrors the language of Federal Rule of Evidence 103(b). Although the New Hampshire Rule of Evidence Committee and the Advisory Committee on Rules recognize that the language is new, they do not believe that this will constitute a substantive change in practice. Under the prior rule, when evidentiary issues are worked out in motions in limine, or when a line of questioning is objected to, judges will give continuing objections, without the need to renew each time, because repeated objections are invasive and disruptive.

For additional guidance regarding the substantive changes to the rule see the notes following Federal Rules of Evidence 103 (Notes of Advisory Committee on 2000 amendments).


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