(a) Preserving a Claim of Error. A party may claim error in a ruling to admit or exclude evidence only if the error affects a substantial right of the party and:
(1) if the ruling admits evidence, a party, on the record:(A) timely objects or moves to strike; and(B) states the specific ground, unless it was apparent from the context; or(2) if the ruling excludes evidence, a party informs the court of its substance by an offer of proof, unless the substance was apparent from the context.
(b) Not Needing to Renew an Objection or Offer of Proof. Once the court rules definitively on the record at trial, a party need not renew an objection or offer of proof to preserve a claim of error for appeal.
(c) Court's Statement About the Ruling; Directing an Offer of Proof. The court may make any statement about the character or form of the evidence, the objection made, and the ruling. The court may direct that an offer of proof be made in question-and-answer form.
(d) Preventing the Jury from Hearing Inadmissible Evidence. To the extent practicable, the court must conduct a jury trial so that inadmissible evidence is not suggested to the jury by any means, such as making statements or offers of proof or asking questions in the hearing of the jury.
(e) Taking Notice of Error. A court may take notice of an error affecting a substantial right, even if the claim of error was not properly preserved.
Rule 103 was amended, effective March 1, 2014.
The purpose of subdivision (a) is to give the trial court an adequate basis for making a ruling, and to create a record that will permit informed appellate review. In a nonjury case, the introduction of allegedly inadmissible evidence will rarely be reversible error.
Subdivision (b) was added, effective March 1, 2014, to clarify that a party need not renew an objection or offer of proof once the court "rules definitively" on the record at trial. A definitive ruling is reviewed in light of the facts and circumstances before the trial court at the time of the ruling. If the relevant facts and circumstances change materially after the ruling has been made, those facts and circumstances cannot be relied upon on appeal unless they have been brought to the attention of the trial court by way of a renewed, and timely, objection, offer of proof, or motion to strike.
Subdivision (c) encourages the trial court to add to the record any statement that may aid the appellate court in its review of evidentiary rulings.
Subdivision (e) 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."
Rule 103 was amended, effective March 1, 2014, in response to the December 1, 2011, revision of the Federal Rules of Evidence. The language and organization of the rule were changed to make the rule more easily understood and to make style and terminology consistent throughout the rules.
Cross Reference: N.D.R.Civ.P. 43 (Evidence); N.D.R.Civ.P. 46(Objecting to a Ruling or Order); N.D.R.Civ.P. 51 (Instructions to Jury); N.D.R.Civ.P. 61 (Harmless Error); N.D.R.Crim.P. 30 (Jury Instructions); N.D.R.Crim.P. 51 (Preserving Claimed Error); N.D.R.Crim.P. 52 (Harmless and Obvious Error).