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 ?
Thus, Matatov was unable to lay a sufficient foundation for the admissibility of the NF-3 forms under the business records exception to the hearsay rule (see CPLR 4518 [a]; People v Brown, 13 NY3d 332, 341 [2009]; People v Cratsley, 86 NY2d 81,90 [1995]; Matter of Leon RR, 48 NY2d 117, 122-123 [1979]), and inadmissible hearsay is insufficient to establish a prima facie case entitling plaintiff to summary judgment (see generally Zuckerman, 49 NY2d at 562).
current mental or bodily condition exceptions to the hearsay rule were
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.
This Article argues that the admissibility of digital data should be pre-conditioned on some affirmative showing of reliability required by the residual hearsay rule.
The traditional exceptions to the hearsay rule remain presumptively in place.
qualifies as hearsay, it examines the exclusions to the hearsay rule.
to express your surprise or astonishment that the courts have not figured this out, even though the hearsay rule has been around for centuries.
In Starr, our Court held that evidence falling within a traditional exception to the hearsay rule is presumptively admissible and that the exceptions should be interpreted in a manner consistent with the requirements of the principled approach: necessity and reliability.
And if that is not enough, the treatment of admissions and confessions at the threshold of the Constitution was actually as hearsay, but as excepted from the hearsay rule, just as were dying declarations.
The underlying idea of the hearsay rule is that statements made out of court, orally or in writing, are generally unreliable, and therefore inadmissible.