Rule 51


Rule 51. Preserving Claimed Error

(a) Exceptions Unnecessary. Exceptions to rulings or orders of the court are unnecessary.

(b) Preserving a Claim of Error. A party may preserve a claim of error by informing the court—when the court ruling or order is made or sought—of the action the party wishes the court to take, or the party's objection to the court's action and the grounds for that objection. If a party does not have an opportunity to object to a ruling or order, the absence of an objection does not later prejudice that party. A ruling or order that admits or excludes evidence is governed by Federal Rule of Evidence 103.

(As amended Mar. 9, 1987, eff. Aug. 1, 1987; Apr. 29, 2002, eff. Dec. 1, 2002.)

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1944

1. This rule is practically identical with Rule 46 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure [28 U.S.C., Appendix]. It relates to a matter of trial practice which should be the same in civil and criminal cases in the interest of avoiding confusion. The corresponding civil rule has been construed in Ulm v. Moore-McCormack Lines, Inc., 115 F.2d 492 (C.C.A. 2d), and Bucy v. Nevada Construction Company, 125 F.2d 213, 218 (C.C.A. 9th). See, also, Orfield, 22 Texas L.R. 194, 221. As to the method of taking objections to instructions to the jury, see Rule 30.

2. Many States have abolished the use of exceptions in criminal and civil cases. See, e.g., Cal.Pen. Code (Deering, 1941), sec. 1259; Mich.Stat.Ann. (Henderson, 1938), secs. 28.1046, 28.1053; Ohio Gen Code Ann. (Page, 1938), secs. 11560, 13442–7; Oreg.Comp. Laws Ann. (1940), secs. 5–704, 26–1001.

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1987 Amendment

The amendments are technical. No substantive change is intended.

Committee Notes on Rules—2002 Amendment

The language of Rule 51 has been amended as part of the general restyling of the Criminal Rules to make them more easily understood and to make style and terminology consistent throughout the rules. These changes are intended to be stylistic only.

The Rule includes a new sentence that explicitly states that any rulings regarding evidence are governed by Federal Rule of Evidence 103. The sentence was added because of concerns about the Supersession Clause, 28 U.S.C. §2072(b), of the Rules Enabling Act, and the possibility that an argument might have been made that Congressional approval of this rule would supersede that Rule of Evidence.

References in Text

The Federal Rules of Evidence, referred to in subd. (b), are set out in the Appendix to Title 28, Judiciary and Judicial Procedure.

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