Shabbat Parashat Matot| 5766
Mishpat Ve halacha Be Israel - Part XIX - The Last Proof - Harav Yedidya Kahane
In our beit din’s Rules and Regulations (chap. 8) it is written: “There will be no appeals based on circumstances that were brought up after the end of the proceedings or based on proofs and facts that were not brought before the ruling court panel.”
The question of the ability to bring new evidence to change a ruling after it is complete is discussed in Sanhedrin 31a. The mishna discusses four cases. In a case where the matter was not discussed, one can bring proof to change the ruling at any time. In a case where the circumstances make it evident that only when one became aware that he was about to lose he suspiciously brings forth new proof, the proof is not accepted.
In two other cases, there is a machloket. In the first case, beit din gives the party 30 days to produce evidence, and he does so after 30 days. In the second case, he admits to not having other evidence and produces some later. In each case, Rabbanan say he cannot use the evidence and Rashbag says he can. The Rambam (Sanhedrin 7: 6-7) accepts Rashbag’s opinion in the former case, that he can produce new proofs after 30 days. However, in the case that he admitted to not having further proof, the Rambam accepts Rabbanan’s view that he cannot produce the evidence.
All of the above refers to standard cases. However, if it is clear from the circumstances that the party who presents the new evidence should not have been expected to have previously known of them, he can overturn the ruling despite previously admitting he had no more evidence. The precedent for this idea is a story in the aforementioned gemara. There was a young orphan who was sued in Rav Nachman’s court. He admitted to having no further proofs and was found to owe money from his father’s estate. People outside of court heard him crying and upon finding out why, informed him that they were aware of his father’s business dealings and produced evidence to support his side. Rav Nachman declared that in a case of a youngster, who is not normally familiar with his father’s business dealings, Rabbanan agree that he can produce proof after admitting he had no more. The Rambam (ibid.:8) extends this concept to any case where the evidence is found in a distant place. Then one can say that he didn’t mention it because he did not think it was relevant when it was not accessible.
In order to preserve an orderly running of the proceedings in our beit din, whenever presentations of all claims by the sides comes to a complete end, it will be considered as a situation where the sides admit that they have no further evidence. However, in cases where admitting to not having more proof is irrelevant, because the new evidence just became available, the party can overturn the ruling. However, it is important to mention that in such cases, the burden of proof is on the person who presents the late evidence to demonstrate that he did not have access to it until after the proceedings.
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