Hearsay within hearsay is not excluded by the rule against hearsay if each part of the combined statements conforms with an exception to the rule.
Summary and Explanation
Federal Rule of Evidence 805 deals with the admissibility of hearsay within hearsay, also known as “double hearsay.” This rule is part of the United States Federal Rules of Evidence, which govern the use of evidence in federal courts.
The main points of Rule 805 are:
- Definition: Hearsay within hearsay, or double hearsay, occurs when a statement contains another statement, and both are offered as evidence. For example, if a witness testifies about what someone else said, and that person was quoting a third party, both layers of statements are considered hearsay.
- Admissibility: Rule 805 states that hearsay within hearsay is not excluded by the rule against hearsay if each part of the combined statements conforms with an exception to the hearsay rule. In other words, for the entire statement to be admissible in court, each layer of hearsay must independently meet a hearsay exception.
- Practical Application: This rule is significant in legal proceedings because it ensures that only reliable evidence is presented in court. By requiring each layer of hearsay to qualify under an exception, the rule filters out potentially unreliable or unverifiable statements.
- Exceptions: The exceptions to the hearsay rule are detailed in other parts of the Federal Rules of Evidence. These exceptions include, but are not limited to, statements made under the belief of imminent death, statements made for medical diagnosis or treatment, and recorded recollection.
Federal Rule of Evidence 805 addresses the complexity that arises when a statement within a statement (double hearsay) is presented as evidence. It mandates that each part of such a compound statement must independently qualify under an exception to the general prohibition against hearsay evidence in order to be admissible in court. This ensures the reliability and credibility of evidence presented in legal proceedings.
(Pub. L. 93–595, §1, Jan. 2, 1975, 88 Stat. 1943; Apr. 26, 2011, eff. Dec. 1, 2011.)
Notes of Advisory Committee on Proposed Rules
On principle it scarcely seems open to doubt that the hearsay rule should not call for exclusion of a hearsay statement which includes a further hearsay statement when both conform to the requirements of a hearsay exception. Thus a hospital record might contain an entry of the patient’s age based on information furnished by his wife. The hospital record would qualify as a regular entry except that the person who furnished the information was not acting in the routine of the business. However, her statement independently qualifies as a statement of pedigree (if she is unavailable) or as a statement made for purposes of diagnosis or treatment, and hence each link in the chain falls under sufficient assurances. Or, further to illustrate, a dying declaration may incorporate a declaration against interest by another declarant. See McCormick §290, p. 611.
Committee Notes on Rules—2011 Amendment
The language of Rule 805 has been amended as part of the restyling of the Evidence Rules to make them more easily understood and to make style and terminology consistent throughout the rules. These changes are intended to be stylistic only. There is no intent to change any result in any ruling on evidence admissibility.