Appellate Insights

Mar 14, 2018 Alana H. Rotter
Prove it!
When the trial court excludes evidence important to your case, making an offer of proof is critical to preserving the issue for appellate review.  Otherwise, the appellate court will not know what was excluded, much less why its exclusion was prejudicial—a fundamental requirement for reversal.  Here’s how to make an offer of proof that will be useful on appeal:
  • Describe the proffered evidence in detail (what the witness would testify to, what the document is, etc).
  • Explain why the evidence supports your position and is necessary in light of other evidence.
  • Make the offer of proof on the record, either orally with a court reporter present or in a written brief.
►  The practical message:   As with many issues, the key to appellate success on an evidentiary exclusion argument is a strong foundation in the trial court.  Make sure the record reflects exactly what evidence the trial court excluded and why the evidence was admissible and significant.