Print Version
Previous PageFile uploaded: 4/4/2012

Rule301. Presumptions in Civil Cases Generally


In a civil case,


(a)   unless a statute orthese rules provide otherwise, the party against whom a presumption is directedhas the burden of proving that the nonexistence of the presumed fact is more probablethan its existence.


(b)   If presumptions areinconsistent, the court determines which presumption applies based upon theweightier considerations of policy. If considerations of policy are of equalweight neither presumption applies.


2011 Advisory CommitteeNote. The languageof this rule has been amended as part of the restyling of the Evidence Rules tomake them more easily understood and to make style and terminology consistentthroughout the rules. These changes are intended to be stylistic only. There isno intent to change any result in any ruling on evidence admissibility.




The text ofthis rule is adapted from Rule 301, Wyoming Rules of Evidence (1977), which isRule 301, Uniform Rules of Evidence (1974) except that the word"civil" is added in subdivision (a). Rule 301, Federal Rules ofEvidence, is a substantially different rule than that promulgated by the UnitedStates Supreme Court. Rule 301, as originally proposed by the United StatesSupreme Court, placed the burden upon the opposing party of establishing thenon-existence of a presumed fact once the party invoking the presumption hadestablished sufficient facts to give rise to the presumption, but Rule 301 aspromulgated by Congress adopted a substantially different rule limiting theeffect of presumption, not otherwise controlled by statute, to one of goingforward with proof rather than casting the burden of proof upon the opposingparty.


Rule 14, UtahRules of Evidence (1971) provided that except for presumptions which areconclusive or irrefutable, once the basic fact supporting the presumption isestablished "the presumption continues to exist and the burden ofestablishing the non-existence of the presumed fact is upon the party againstwhom the presumption operates . . . ." To the same effect, see Koesling v. Basamakis, 539 P.2d1043 (Utah 1975). If evidence to rebut a presumption has not been admitted, thepresumption will determine outcome on the issue; if such evidence has beenadmitted, the presumption will dictate the instruction to be given the jury onhow they are to resolve doubt. There will continue to be fact combinationswhich satisfy the burden of going forward with the evidence but which are not"presumptions" within the meaning of this rule and which therefore donot shift the burden of persuasion. They might best be called "permissibleinferences."


The UtahRules of Evidence (1971) did not prohibit the application of presumptions incriminal cases. Presumptions in criminal cases are not treated in this rule.See Utah Code Annotated, Section 76-1-503 (1953) or any subsequent revision ofthat section. Recent decisions of the United States Supreme Court in Mullaney v. Wilbur, 421 U.S. 684 (1975) and Patterson v.New York, 432 U.S. 197 (1977) have given a constitutional dimension topresumptions in criminal cases.


Subdivision(b) is comparable in substance to Rule 15, Utah Rules of Evidence (1971). Utahlaw is believed to generally follow the position taken by the Uniform Rules ofEvidence (1974) and the provisions of Article III as originally promulgated bythe United States Supreme Court. See Presumptions in Utah: A Search forCertainty, 5 Utah L. Rev. 196 (1956).