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FROM THE ALABAMA LAWYER: Book Review - McElroy’s Alabama Evidence, Seventh Edition (2020)

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Book By Charles W. Gamble, Robert J. Goodwin and Terrence W. McCarthy; Reviewed by Judge R. Bernard Harwood, Jr.

The long-awaited seventh edition of McElroy’s Alabama Evidence is now available. And it doesn’t disappoint.

As much as I try not to use clichés, there is one that so best fits here that it is unavoidable: This superb new resource is an absolute must have for anyone wishing to research Alabama evidence law.

Co-authored by Alabama evidence guru, University of Alabama School of Law Dean Emeritus, and Professor Emeritus Charles W. Gamble; Cumberland School of Law Professor Emeritus Robert J. Goodwin; and Cumberland Adjunct Professor of Law and partner in Lightfoot, Franklin & White Terrence W. McCarthy, this new edition expands the two-volume sixth edition to three volumes.

An opening 97-page, well-organized table of contents introduces 2,709 pages of substantive text. At their terminus is a conveniently-placed appendix containing the January 30, 2020 amended version of Rules 503A (counselor-client privilege) and 902(13)(14) (certified records generated by an electronic process or system), along with the Committee Comments for those amendments.

There then follow these four alternative but complementary methods for researching particular evidentiary issues: (1) a table of the Alabama Rules of Evidence, listing the sections of text where each subsection of each rule is principally discussed; (2) a second table of the rules, again listing each subsection of each rule, but this time citing to every page of the text where any reference to the subsection appears; (3) a 235-page table of cases directing the reader to every page of the text on which a particular case is cited; and (4) a most user-friendly 88-page index.

A helpful innovation in this edition is a new format whereby italicized headings introduce the various paragraphs or groups of paragraphs contained in a section to tell the reader what particular subject matter is about to be discussed.

An example of how this new edition updates evidentiary subjects that have undergone significant change and expansion subsequent to the prior edition and its supplements are the new sections devoted to developments in the law of expert testimony. All aspects of Rule 702 and 703 are explored, including the effect of the 2013 amendment to 703, and the differing fields of operation of the Daubert test and the Frye general-acceptance test.

I recognize that this recitation of data is pretty dry stuff, but I share it to show the great lengths the authors have gone to in order to provide not only an extraordinarily comprehensive treatise on the law of Alabama evidence, but also to ensure that it is fully and readily accessible.

The three authors, each of whom has previously written extensively on Alabama evidence law, have now combined forces to produce an encyclopedic treatment of the subject which is not only all-encompassing, but is also easily navigated by means of the several alternative research pathways they have provided.

Having opened with an apt cliché, I’ll close with an equally apt one: The new edition of this standard treatise clearly stands as the bible on the subject.