RULE 103. RULINGS ON EVIDENCE
(a) Effect of Erroneous Ruling. Error may not be predicated upon a ruling which admits or excludes evidence unless a substantial right of the party is affected, and
(1) Objection. In case the ruling is one admitting evidence, a timely objection or motion to strike appears of record, stating the specific ground of objection, if the specific ground was not apparent from the context; or
(2) Offer of Proof. In case the ruling is one excluding evidence, the substance of the evidence was made known to the court by offer or was apparent from the context within which questions were asked.
(b) Record of Offer and Ruling. The court may add any other or further statement which shows the character of the evidence, the form in which it was offered, the objection made, and the ruling thereon. It may direct the making of an offer in question and answer form.
(c) Hearing of Jury. In jury cases, proceedings shall be conducted, to the extent practicable, so as to prevent inadmissible evidence from being suggested to the jury by any means, such as making statements or offers of proof or asking questions in the hearing of the jury.
(d) Errors Affecting Substantial Rights. Nothing in this rule precludes taking notice of errors affecting substantial rights although they were not brought to the attention of the court.
The purpose of subdivision (a) is to give the trial court an adequate basis for making a ruling, and to create a record which will permit informed appellate review. See generally Signal Drilling Co. v. Liberty Petroleum Co., 226 N.W.2d 148 (N.D. 1975). See also State v. Haakenson, 213 N.W.2d 394 (N.D. 1973); Grenz v. Werre, 129 N.W.2d 681 (N.D. 1964).
As to rulings made by a court in nonjury cases, the North Dakota Supreme Court has stated that "the introduction of allegedly inadmissible evidence in a nonjury case will rarely be reversible error." Signal Drilling, supra, at 153, quoting Schuh v. Allery, 210 N.W.2d 96, 99 (N.D. 1973).
Subdivision (b) encourages the trial court to add to the record any statement that may aid the appellate court in its review of evidentiary rulings. See the related discussion of Rule 43(c), NDRCivP, in Signal Drilling, supra, at 153.
Subdivision (d) is a statement of the doctrine of plain error, but omits the word "plain." The omission was meant to signify that errors affecting substantial rights should be corrected whether or not they are "plain" or "obvious." Cf. Rule 52, NDRCrimP, and Rule 61, NDRCivP.
SOURCES: Minutes of Joint Procedure Committee: April 8, 1976, page 14; October 1, 1975, page 2. Rule 103, Federal Rules of Evidence; Rule 103, SBAND proposal.
CONSIDERED: Rules 43(c), 46, 51(c), and 61, NDRCivP; Rules 30(c), 51, and 52, NDRCrimP.