Micheal S. Pardo, What Makes Evidence Sufficient? 65 ARIZ L. REV. 431 (2023).
When is a party’s evidence sufficient in a civil case? When is the prosecution’s evidence sufficient in a criminal case? The answers to these questions play several important roles—both practical and constitutional—throughout civil and criminal litigation. As a practical matter, a judicial determination that evidence is insufficient may end a case pre-trial (for example, at summary judgment); may end a trial without getting to a jury (resulting in a judgment as a matter of law); or may overturn a jury’s verdict in a civil case or a guilty verdict in a criminal case. As a constitutional matter, the right to a jury trial in civil cases depends on whether parties have sufficient evidence to get to trial, and criminal defendants have a due process right to not be convicted based on insufficient evidence. Despite the importance of the sufficiency issue, the legal doctrine separating sufficient from insufficient evidence is imprecise and unclear, and judicial reasoning applying the doctrine in particular cases is often frustratingly opaque.
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