We dropped a new summary video about an exception to the hearsay rule known as the rule about “Certificates of Marriage, Baptism and Similar Ceremonies. ” It is found in Federal Rule of Evidence 803(12). 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. But, one exception to this rule says that Certificates of Marriage, Baptism and Similar Ceremonies are not hearsay.

Specifically, 803(12) exempts a statement of fact contained in a certificate if the certificate

Is made by a person who is authorized by a religious organization or by law to perform the act certified; is attesting that the person performed a marriage or similar ceremony or administered a sacrament; and is purporting to have been issued at the time of the act or a reasonable time after it.

The certificate proffered under 803(12) must have been made by the person who performed the ceremony or did the relevant act while he or she was authorized to do the ceremony/act, and have been issued at or near the time of the act or it will not be admissible in the hearing or trial.

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