New GLF Summary Video: Hearsay & Reputation of Family Hx
We dropped a new summary video about an exception to the hearsay rule known as the rule about “Reputation as to Personal or Family History” Check it out:
This exception is found in Federal Rule of Evidence 803 (19). Please recall that ‘‘Hearsay’’ refers to a statement that is not made while testifying at the current trial or hearing and is offered into evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted in the statement. A ‘‘statement’’ is what a person said or wrote but also includes nonverbal conduct, if the person intended the conduct as an assertion. The General Rule is found in Rule 802 and says that hearsay statements are not admissible in court unless otherwise authorized.
The Rule 803(19) exception says that a reputation among a person’s family by blood, adoption, or marriage—or among a person’s associates or in the community concerning the person’s birth, adoption, legitimacy, ancestry, marriage, divorce, death, relationship by blood, adoption, or marriage, or similar facts of personal or family history is not hearsay. This provision exempts from the rule against hearsay statements about the declarant's own birth, adoption, legitimacy, ancestry, marriage, divorce, relationship by blood, adoption, or marriage, or similar facts of personal or family history, even though the declarant had no way of acquiring personal knowledge about that fact
The Rationale for this rule is that certain categories of statements are deemed to be free enough from the risk of inaccuracy and untrustworthiness such that “the test of cross-examination would be of marginal utility.”
The test then is, “[w]ere the circumstances named in the statement such a marked item in the ordinary family history and so interesting to the family in common that statements about them in the family would be likely to be based on fairly accurate knowledge and to be sincerely uttered?”
If the answer is “Yes,” then the statement is admissible. If “No,” then the statement is not admissible.
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