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Monday, August 18, 2008
Hear say evidence
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Lawsuit Self-Help ... Step-by-Step

Tips & Tactics

What is Hearsay Evidence? Win with Jurisdictionary!

You must understand what hearsay is if you want to win in court.

It isn't what you think it is.

In court, "hearsay" has a very technical meaning that you must understand completely ... so, please read on ... understanding that your weekly "Tips & Tactics" are brief introductions to topics we discuss. We're confident you find them easy-to-understand and that you'll want to order our equally easy-to-understand complete $219 step-by-step self-help course to get the rest of the story, so you and your lawyer (if you have one) can know what you must do to win your lawsuit.

Let's start with a simple Jurisdictionary definition of hearsay.

"An out-of-court statement offered to prove what it says."

When I was in law school my evidence professor spent days on this, trying to explain his amazingly complex definition. None of us in the class understood what he was talking about, because his definition was not "easy-to-understand". That was then. Now you and your friends have Jurisdictionary to help you understand all you need to win your lawsuit! Please read on.

Let's take the simple Jurisdictionary definition apart and see what its two separate components really mean.

Consider the first part of the definition.

What is an out-of-court statement? Well, it's just what it says, a statement made by someone somewhere other than "in court". Such statements may be made in writing, verbally, or painted in the sky with smoke trails from an airplane. If the statement is not made in court, it is an "out-of-court statement".

But, there's more! If a statement is made at a deposition where a certified court reporter is creating a transcript, it is considered as being made "in court". Both sides are invited to participate in depositions and ask questions, so neither side can complain they didn't have an opportunity to examine the deponent witness under oath. Courts treat deposition statements as being "in court".

The key point to latch onto here is that both sides have an equal opportunity to question the person making the statement under oath. A statement made by a witness at a deposition may in fact be hearsay, if the witness is testifying to what somone else said, but it is what the other person said that is hearsay ... the part that was said out-of-court by someone who could not be questioned under oath by both sides.

If the person who actually made the statement - the pilot in a sky writing airplane or the unknown author of some cryptic intra-office memo, for example - is not "in court" under oath and subject to be cross-examined, the statement is inadmissible hearsay (unless it falls into one of the exceptions explained in our complete 24-hour Jurisdictionary step-by-step self-help course you need to get).

Now for the interesting second part.

Is the statement offered to prove the truth of what it says?

If an out-of-court statement is not offered to prove what it says, it is not hearsay ... even though the statement is made out-of-court, is not under oath, and neither side has an opportunity to cross-examine. In order for a statement to be hearsay, it must be offered to prove the truth of what it says!

"She said she'd bake a cake after church next Easter Sunday." If a witness testifies her neighbor said this, and if the other side objects, you should make clear to the court that the statement is not hearsay. If the witness testifies to what her neighbor said she was going to do, then the out-of-court statement is only offered to prove what the neighbor said, not that what she said was true. If it isn't offered to prove the neighbor actually went to church or baked a cake, then it isn't hearsay ... even though it was an out-of-court statement.

Don't let the other side trick you!

We make lawsuits easy-to-understand.

Our 24-hour Jurisdictionary step-by-step self-help course goes into much more detail, making this all-important topic much clearer than we can explain in a single weekly newsletter.

You must fully understand hearsay and the hearsay exceptions if you want to win your lawsuit, so order our course today, if you don't already have it.

You do want to win, don't you?

Learn about hearsay, objections, evidence, pleadings, motions, and much more with our 24-hour step-by-step self-help course.

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... Dr. Frederick D. Graves

... 22-Year Veteran Attorney


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