New Summary Video: Hearsay and Statements in Property Records
We dropped a new summary video of an exception to the hearsay rule known as the rule about “Statements in Documents that affect an interest in property.” It is found in Federal Rule of Evidence 803 (15). 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 that Hearsay statements are not admissible in court.
One exception to this rule says that Certain statements in documents that affect an interest in property are not hearsay.
Specifically, a statement that is contained in a document that purports to establish or affect an interest in property is not hearsay if the statement was relevant to the document’s purpose—unless later dealings with the property are inconsistent with the truth of the statement or the purport of the document.
The Advisory Committee Notes for the 1972 Proposed Rules of Evidence state that "Dispositive documents often contain recitals of fact. Thus a deed purporting to have been executed by an attorney in fact may recite the existence of the power of attorney, or a deed may recite that the grantors are all the heirs of the last record owner. Under the rule, these recitals are exempted from the hearsay rule. The circumstances under which dispositive documents are executed and the requirement that the recital be germane to the purpose of the document are believed to be adequate guarantees of trustworthiness, particularly in view of the nonapplicability of the rule if dealings with the property have been inconsistent with the document. The age of the document is of no significance, though in practical application the document will most often be an ancient one.”
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