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Attorneys of the Year: Ted Sampsell-Jones

Ted Sampsell-Jones was “super honored and happy” with his selection to chair the Minnesota Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on the Minnesota Rules of Evidence.

Sampsell-Jones, a professor of law at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, has taught evidence law for nearly 15 years.

Most of his writing and research is on the subject, and he’s gained extensive litigation experience in evidence law in private practice as an appellate criminal defense attorney.

“I’ve studied the history of evidence law and the development of evidence law over the last 100 years. The creation of the rule-making process and the rules were a huge step forward. I wanted to be part of that,” Sampsell-Jones said.

The committee had been inactive since 2006 when the Supreme Court asked Sampsell-Jones to chair the revived group in 2013. The 17-member committee includes defense attorneys, prosecutors, civil practitioners, district court judges and an appeals court judge.

Sampsell-Jones drew praise for his leadership, maintaining a neutral stance and a civil atmosphere.

The committee’s remarkably busy 2018 culminated in recommending changes to two major rules, those governing admission of prior bad acts under Rule 404(b) and those regarding expert testimony under Rule 702.

The Supreme Court, however, did not approve those recommendations.

“Not every reform movement succeeds,” Sampsell-Jones said. “Things will continue as they have just fine in Minnesota courts without those changes. It was a good group regardless of the result. It was a really good process to go through.”

The court more recently, though, did issue an order on eyewitness testimony evidence based on a committee report, Sampsell-Jones said.

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