secondary evidence

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Related to secondary evidence: Primary Evidence

Secondary Evidence

A reproduction of, or substitute for, an original document or item of proof that is offered to establish a particular issue in a legal action.

Secondary evidence is evidence that has been reproduced from an original document or substituted for an original item. For example, a photocopy of a document or photograph would be considered secondary evidence. Another example would be an exact replica of an engine part that was contained in a motor vehicle. If the engine part is not the very same engine part that was inside the motor vehicle involved in the case, it is considered secondary evidence.

Courts prefer original, or primary, evidence. They try to avoid using secondary evidence wherever possible. This approach is called the best evidence rule. Nevertheless, a court may allow a party to introduce secondary evidence in a number of situations. Under rule 1003 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, a duplicate is admissible unless a genuine question is raised as to its authenticity or unless it would be unfair to admit the duplicate in place of the original piece of evidence.

After hearing arguments by the parties, the court decides whether to admit secondary evidence after determining whether the evidence is in fact authentic or whether it would be unfair to admit the duplicate. However, when a party questions whether an asserted writing ever existed, or whether a writing, recording, or photograph is the original, the trier of fact makes the ultimate determination. The trier of fact is the judge if it is a bench trial; in a jury trial, the trier of fact is the jury.

Rule 1004 of the Federal Rules of Evidence lists specific exceptions to the best evidence rule. Under rule 1004, secondary evidence of a writing, recording, or photograph is admissible if (1) all originals are lost or destroyed, unless they were lost or destroyed in bad faith by the party seeking to introduce the secondary evidence; (2) no original can be obtained by judicial process or procedure; (3) the party's opponent in the case has possession of the original and does not produce it after being given sufficient notice that the evidence would be subject to examination at a court hearing; or (4) the original evidence is not closely related to a controlling issue in the case.

Further readings

Green, Eric D., and Charles R. Nesson, and Peter L. Murray. 2000. Problems, Cases, and Materials on Evidence. 3d ed. Gaithersburg, Md.: Aspen Law & Business.


Primary Evidence.

See: hearsay

secondary evidence

evidence that is not of the best and most direct character which may be excluded if that better evidence is available.

SECONDARY EVIDENCE. That species of proof which is admissible on the loss of primary evidence, and which becomes, by that event, the best evidence. 3 Bouv. Inst. n. 3055.

References in periodicals archive ?
418) This makes sense in the context of secondary or derivative evidence--admission of such evidence would in no way work against deterring a police officer from conducting an illegal search because such secondary evidence is too attenuated from the illegal search to be properly referred to as a direct consequence of that search.
Chapters 2 to 10 present the main considerations of the evidence in chronological series--organological data integrated with the evaluation of relevant secondary evidence drawn from scores, texts, and other documents by contemporaneous physicists, mathematicians, and writers on music.
Here, the only issue is whether secondary evidence should be admitted.
Surrogate and secondary evidence is almost always taken into account.
Without a self-confession to point to, the search comes down to secondary evidence (interpreting someone's living arrangements and social affiliations) and, less reliably, gossip.
The ground was definitely faster for yesterday's card than it had been on Tuesday, but there is strong secondary evidence that suggests `good' was a more accurate description than `good to firm'.
Mitchell's book is uniquely interdisciplinary, To support his argument he employs a vast array of secondary evidence from the social sciences, including history, sociology, psychology, and philosophy.
There is no secondary evidence that impacts had anything to do with the Carnian-Norian extinctions.
Henshaw encompasses within the pages of this volume a vast range of primary and secondary evidence worthy of a dozen or more books.
13) The secondary evidence required, such as the excerpt from a foreign employer's books and records, may be difficult, if not impossible, to obtain.
The appearance test should be used only when misdeeds are so hard to prove that one must look at secondary evidence.
Forensic activity is automatically triggered by important events, such as threshold alarms, to generate valuable secondary evidence for root-cause identification and troubleshooting of performance problems.