RULE 401. DEFINITION OF "RELEVANT EVIDENCE"
"Relevant evidence" means evidence having any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence.
This definition of "relevant evidence" has been adopted by the North Dakota Supreme Court.State v. Hendrickson, 240 N.W.2d 846, Syllabus 2 (N.D. 1976). The definition presents no conceptual departures from traditional thoughts on the subject of relevancy. The language is intended to reflect the realization that stringent legal standards cannot be meaningfully applied to govern determinations of relevancy and, consequently, that the area is one best left to the wide discretion of the trial court.
One point merits attention, and that is that evidence may be relevant even though directed toward a fact that is not in dispute. As stated in the Advisory Committee's Note to Rule 401, Federal Rules of Evidence:
"While situations will arise which call for the exclusion of evidence offered to prove a point conceded by the opponent, the ruling should be made on the basis of such considerations as waste of time and undue prejudice (see Rule 403), rather than under any general requirement that evidence is admissible only if directed to matters in dispute. Evidence which is essentially background in nature can scarcely be said to involve disputed matter, yet it is universally offered and admitted as an aid to understanding."
SOURCES: Minutes of Joint Procedure Committee: April 8, 1976, page 19; October 1, 1975, page 3. Rule 401, Federal Rules of Evidence; Rule 401, SBAND proposal.