hearsay rule
hearsay rule n: a rule barring the admission of hearsay as evidence
◇ The hearsay rule is stated in Rule 802 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. Hearsay is inadmissible as evidence because of the unavailability of cross-examination to test the accuracy of the statement. There are numerous exceptions to the rule, however, mainly for statements made under circumstances that assure reliability. Statements made spontaneously, for example, or as part of a business or medical record are inherently trustworthy and thus excepted from the rule. A statement need not be made orally for purposes of the hearsay rule. Written statements, gestures, and even motion pictures are included.

Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Law. . 1996.

hearsay rule
A rule of evidence that prohibits the use of out-of-court statements that are offered as proof of the subject of the statement. These statements are not admitted as evidence because person who made the statement isn't in court for the other party to cross-examine. For example, if Cathy, an eyewitness to an accident, later tells Betsy that the pickup ran the light, Betsy would not be allowed to recount Cathy's remarks. Out-of-court statements that aren't offered to prove the truth of the statement are admissible, however. Suppose Tom is called to testify, "On January 1, Bob said the Steelers stink." If the party calling Tom wants to prove that Bob was alive on January 1, Tom's testimony would be admitted, because the other side could question Tom about whether the conversation really took place on that date. Whether the Steelers are a poor team is beside the point. Even statements that are hearsay may be admitted if they fall within one of the many exceptions to the rule. In general, hearsay will be admitted if the circumstances of the statement indicate a high probability that the statement is true. For example, a statement uttered spontaneously and under duress — such as a victim's remarks immediately following an accident — could be admitted because the judge might find that the person had little time to plan to say anything other than the truth.
Category: Small Claims Court & Lawsuits

Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary. . 2009.

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's 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.

Law dictionary. . 2013.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • exception to hearsay rule — Hearsay evidence taken out of the general rule against the admissibility of hearsay in the interest of justice, and in accord with sound policy, so as to be admissible notwithstanding the rule, for example, a dying declaration, a declaration… …   Ballentine's law dictionary

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  • hearsay — A term applied to that species of testimony given by a witness who relates, not what he knows personally, but what others have told him, or what he has heard said by others. A statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at… …   Black's law dictionary

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