Copyright (c) 2000 St. John's Law Review Association
St. John's Law Review
NOTE: THE AFTERMATH OF MCC-MARBLE: IS THIS THE DEATH KNELL FOR THE PAROL EVIDENCE RULE?
74 St. John's L. Rev. 843
Cessante ratione, cessat ipsa lex - where the reason for the rule ceases, the rule also ceases. 1 Twentieth century American case law contains numerous court holdings that recognize the maxim that once society no longer embraces a particular public policy objective, the associated rule must be reworked or eliminated. 2 To sustain the vitality of our legal system, scholars and judges must continually scrutinize legal doctrine and propose changes when public policy warrants it. 3 One prominent subject of such scrutiny has been the parol evidence rule. 4
Generally, the parol evidence rule seeks to exclude testimony of negotiations occurring prior to, or contemporaneous with, the execution of a written instrument. 5 Numerous reasons for the parol evidence rule have been set forth. 6 Two of these policy reasons are universally accepted. First, jurors are generally considered to be extremely impressionable. 7 Second, there is a need for the integrity of a writing to be preserved. 8
Although courts have embraced the reasons behind the parol evidence rule, the uniformity ends there. This lack of uniformity creates confusion for students, scholars, judges, and practitioners. The confusion regarding this rule is enhanced by the inconsistent application of the rule 9 and the limited precedential value provided by appellate decisions. 10 In addition, the semantics of the rule itself are paradoxical. 11 Finally, the rule is virtually engulfed by a plethora of exceptions. 12 Nevertheless, the parol evidence rule survives. 13
The difficulties surrounding the rule ...
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