Hearsay is a statement that the speaker does not make while testifying in court and is offered in evidence to prove the truth of a matter asserted in the statement itself. A statement can be said aloud, written or by nonverbal conduct if the person intended it as an assertion. The precise definition used in federal courts can be found in Federal Rule of Evidence 801(a-c).

The rule against the use of hearsay in federal courts can be found in Federal Rule of Evidence 802.

As with many rules, there are exceptions to the Hearsay Rule. In the federal rules of evidence, there are 23 such exceptions and can be found at Federal Rule of Evidence 803. State to state, there are some minor variations of exceptions to the Hearsay Rule as applied in state courts. Among the 23 federal exceptions, the circumstances that allow admission into evidence all have a common-sense and fair basis such as admissibility, for example, of marriage records, market reports, medical records and public records generally. For the full list, see Federal Rule of Evidence 803.

Beyond these 23 exceptions, there are also exceptions for when a party, a party’s lawyer or a party’s agent makes out-of-court statements (otherwise known as party admissions) that may be admissible.

© 2022 Ralph D. Davis