FAMILY LAW ARTICLES
Hi, I’m Ben Vojtik, and I’m here to talk to you about hearsay in California. Hearsay is an out-of-court statement offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted. Now, to better explain this concept I’m going to use a hypothetical. So let’s say we have two people sail and Sally getting a divorce. Now Saul believes that Sallyis selling seashells down by the seashore.
Why do we care? Obviously, these are community property seashells. So, how does Saul go about proving that Sally is selling seashells down by the seashore? He needs evidence, often such evidence would be testimonial. Now, how does Saul know that Sally is selling seashells down by the seashore? It’s possible that for this occasion, Sarah told Shaul that Sally is selling seashells down by the seashore. Now, Saul would not be able to testify that Sarah said that Sally is selling seashells down by the seashore because that would be hearsay. That would be the out-of-court statement of Sarah that Sally is selling seashells down by the seashore. We would need Sarah to testify. So how does Sarah know that Sally is selling seashells down by the seashore? It’s possible that Sarah saw Sally sell seashells down by the seashore. If that’s the case, then there is no hearsay objection. That would be a direct witness. However, if Sally told Sarah that she is selling seashells down by the seashore that would be hearsay. That would be the out-of-court statement of Sally to Sarah that Sally is selling seashells down by the seashore.
It would however fall under a hearsay exception. In this case that would be statement of a party opponent. Statements made by Sally’s a party to the action can be used against her in that action. Now, it’s also possible that it could be used against Sally’s statement against interest, however, this depends on the context and argument. It’s possible that it would be in Sally’s interest to advertise that she sells seashells down by the seashore. However, it’s also in this instance a good argument that it is against her interest to make such statements since she doesn’t want evidence admitted that she sells seashells down by the seashore. Now, let’s say Sally wants to attack Sarah’s testimony and Sarah previously had made a statement that Sally does not sell seashells down by the seashore. She could seek to admit that as a prior inconsistent statement with Sarah’s testimony, and in order to bolster Sarah’s testimony Saul would then be able to introduce prior consistent statements that Sally sells seashells down by the seashore and that Sarah said so to court as consistent statements intended to bolster that testimony.
Now, there are other exceptions as well. Let’s say Sam purchased seashells from Sally at the seashore and then for some reason he decided to chew on one of said seashells which shattered in his mouth and he is now choking. If he believes he is dying and in his what he believes is his dying breath she says that Sally sold him the shattered seashell that is in his mouth, which could be admitted as evidence. It could also be admitted as a spontaneous or excited utterance. And even potentially state of mind or mental or physical state. So those would also be exceptions that would potentially allow that statement to be admitted into court. Then there’s another example with business records and there really are quite a few other exceptions, but I’m pretty much running out of ways to use Sally selling seashells by the seashore hypotheticals to better explain this and also running out of time, but I hope that you’ve enjoyed this video as much as I enjoyed making it. Thank you.