Missing-Evidence Rule Law and Legal Definition

Missing evidence rule is a principle of evidence law that focuses on the impact on the jury of the defendant's non production of evidence at trial. According to this rule,when a party fails at trial to present evidence that the party controls and that would have been proper to present, the jury is entitled to infer that the evidence would have been unfavorable to that party.

The following are examples of case law on missing evidence rule:

Failure to bring before tribunal some circumstance, document, or witness, when either party himself or his opponent claims that facts would thereby be elucidated, serves to indicate, as most rational inference, that party fears to do so, and this fear is some evidence that circumstance or document or witness, if brought, would have exposed facts unfavorable to party. [Christensen v. State, 21 Md. App. 428 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 1974)]

The missing evidence rule applies only when the opponent's evidence and legal deductions there from make a prima facie case for the opponent. On appeal and consideration of the cause de novo, an appellate court will not supply evidence by presumption to supplement evidence offered by a party. That is, any concealment of evidence supposed or otherwise, will not be considered as justification for an award not supported by evidence. [Fulks v. Fulks, 1989 Tenn. App. LEXIS 676 (Tenn. Ct. App. Oct. 18, 1989)]