hearsay rule


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Financial, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.

hearsay rule

n. the basic rule that testimony or documents which quote persons not in court are not admissible. Because the person who supposedly knew the facts is not in court to state his/her exact words, the trier of fact cannot judge the demeanor and credibility of the alleged first-hand witness, and the other party's lawyer cannot cross-examine (ask questions of) him or her. However, as significant as the hearsay rule itself are the exceptions to the rule which allow hearsay testimony such as: a) a statement by the opposing party in the lawsuit which is inconsistent with what he/she has said in court (called an "admission against interest"); b) business entries made in the regular course of business, when a qualified witness can identify the records and tell how they were kept; c) official government records which can be shown to be properly kept; d) a writing about an event made close to the time it occurred, which may be used during trial to refresh a witness' memory about the event; e) a "learned treatise" which means historical works, scientific books, published art works, maps and charts; f) judgments in other cases; g) a spontaneous excited or startled utterance ("oh, God, the bus hit the little girl"); h) contemporaneous statement which explains the meaning of conduct if the conduct was ambiguous; i) a statement which explains a person's state of mind at the time of an event; j) a statement which explains a person's future intentions ("I plan to....") if that person's state of mind is in question; k) prior testimony, such as in deposition (taken under oath outside of court), or at a hearing, if the witness is not available (including being dead); l) a declaration by the opposing party in the lawsuit which was contrary to his/her best interest if the party is not available at trial (this differs from an admission against interest which is admissible in trial if it differs from testimony at trial); m) a dying declaration by a person believing he/she is dying; n) a statement made about one's mental set, feeling, pain or health, if the person is not available---most often applied if the declarant is dead ("my back hurts horribly," and then dies); o) a statement about one's own will when the person is not available; p) other exceptions based on a judge's discretion that the hearsay testimony in the circumstances must be reliable. (See: hearsay, admission against interest, dying declaration)

References in periodicals archive ?
Although the court concluded that Assistant Attorney General Jay Sullivan did not misstate the medical examiner's testimony and looked past his mention that he "couldn't say things" because of hearsay rules, Sullivan's characterization of the defense's strategy earned a rebuke.
(55 AD3d 644 [2d Dept 2008]), wherein it held that the plaintiffs there "failed to establish their prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law" because "the plaintiffs' medical service providers failed to demonstrate the admissibility of their billing records under the business records exception to the hearsay rule." The court concluded that "Art of Healing constitutes an anomaly, a jurisprudential drift from [the court's] well-established precedent" (114 AD3d at 44, 45).
See Eleanor Swift, "The Hearsay Rule at Work: Has It Been Abolished De Facto by Judicial Decision?" (1992) 76 Minn L Rev 473 at 490-98 (overview of United States federal court techniques used to justify the admission of crime victims' hearsay, particularly children); Michael L Seigel, "Rationalizing Hearsay: A Proposal for a Best Evidence Hearsay Rule" (1992) 72 BUL Rev 893 at 895.
The second exception to the hearsay rule to be addressed is known
74, 86 (1970) (plurality opinion) ("It seems apparent that the Sixth Amendment's Confrontation Clause and the evidentiary hearsay rule stem from the same roots.
Although three United States Circuit Courts of Appeals have rejected the comprehensive application of the hearsay rule to all digital data, (11) it is contended that well-established authority from the Second Circuit provides the constitutional basis for deeming all digital data as hearsay.
at all--and thus fall outside the ambit of the hearsay rule." (81)
(14) Probably the best example is offered by the traditional hearsay rule with its many exceptions.
Other than Rule 803(8), the other hearsay exception that might permit admission of FDA warning letters is Rule 807, the so-called "residual exception" to the hearsay rule. Among the requirements for admissibility under Rule 807 is that the evidence has "equivalent circumstantial guarantees of trustworthiness," the evidence "is more probative on the point for which it is offered than any other evidence that the proponent can obtain through reasonable efforts," and "admitting it will best serve the purposes of these rules and the interests of justice." (36) Despite its broad language, Rule 807, however, is not meant to provide an end-run around the hearsay rules.