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Foundations of Evidence Law ... the most provocative of evidence books ... constitutes the most sophisticated and persuasive argument for enormously enhanced legal control over the evidentiary process in recent memory, and stands in marked contrast to the progression of the law of evidence in the Anglo-American world. [The] audacity and power of the argument explain why it has generated so much opposition in a very short time [and] will stimulate new work for decades to come.
Foundational to [Stein’s] call for intense control over the evidentiary process is his deep insight that rules of evidence do not just do what they purport to do; they also allocate error, like it or not. He is right on this point. Stein’s book has much to commend it: [it] makes a robust argument that the modern tendency toward minimizing the regulation of evidence is ill-conceived and that evidence law should develop in exactly the opposite direction; articulates an elegant unified theory of evidence law, whose central component is the principle of maximal individualization; [and] uses these various ideas to resolve some of the troubling paradoxes of the law of evidence, well captured by the famous blue bus hypothetical. ... From these theoretical perspectives, he brilliantly critiques various evidentiary rules, sometimes justifying and sometimes condemning those rules [and] provides a creative theoretical foundation for both civil and criminal litigation. Ronald J. Allen, in 29 Law & Philosophy (2010)
Alex Stein may be the Ronald Dworkin of evidence law. Foundations of Evidence Law ... offers an alternative to Bentham’s influential evidentiary views – most importantly, Bentham’s arguments for the elimination of exclusionary rules and the institution of a largely “free proof” regime, which Stein harshly criticizes. Like Dworkin’s theory of law generally, Stein attempts to locate and justify the law of evidence within the domain of political morality, that is, to legitimate and justify the coercive state authority that the law of evidence helps to initiate. [The] “foundations” that Stein articulates seek to describe and explain (or “fit”) many of the extant Anglo-American evidentiary practices in light of a few broad principles that in turn justify the practices in terms of political morality. He then turns those principles back on the practices that are out of tune, for which he prescribes revision. ... Stein’s methodology appears to interpret evidence law “in the best light.” ... Whether one agrees or disagrees with its specific conclusions, Foundations of Evidence Law is a significant book [that] offers unique and powerful arguments regarding virtually every important evidentiary issue, and it pushes the debates regarding these issues forward. Michael S. Pardo, in 5(2) International Commentary on Evidence (2007)
Foundations of Evidence Law ... represents an important first attempt to base evidence doctrine on something more than armchair psychology, to provide a justification for and conceptual unity to what has hitherto been regarded as an incoherent patchwork of historical hangovers from outdated assumptions about fact-finding, and to make clear the value of probability theory. As such, it deserves to be read and engaged with by all evidence scholars, whether interested in evidence law alone or more widely in the processes of proof. Donald Nicolson, in 26 Legal Studies (2006)
Foundations of Evidence Law … attempt[s] the monumental task of combining the contributions of the New Evidence Scholarship with those of doctrinal evidence lawyers and those who see evidence as encapsulating social values. Even works of partial synthesis are rarely encountered, and so Stein is to be congratulated on not only making an attempt to square the whole circle, but on making such a credible attempt. ... Stein has provided us with an extremely thoughtful and thought-provoking theory of evidence law. Both his objective and his conclusions are bold, and the reader is forced at every stage in the argument to consider whether she accepts the line that Stein takes, and why. Even if one does not accept that Stein's theory is uniquely correct, it is difficult not to accept that it is at least valid. Deirdre M. Dwyer, in 5 Law, Probability and Risk (2006)
Without sharing all positions of Prof. Stein ... one has to salute the effort accomplished to prevent the law of evidence from oozing away in the lazy folds of the Cartesian spirit.
Rafael Encinas de Munagorri, in 2-2007 Revue Internationale de Droit Compare (in French)