Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Story of A, B & C

The Story of A, B & C: Hearsay Fortunes & Misfortunes

Alpha is an ambulatory person, a pedestrian. Beta is a rich boor. C is a chauffeur. He works for Beta.

One day Alpha ambulates, he goes for a walk. Beta has a cold. So he stays home in bed. However, he orders C to get some groceries.

On his way to the grocery store C runs into A -- he literally and actually runs into A -- with B’s Rolls Royce.

After the accident, C tells O, an onlooker, “I’m about to kick the bucket. I’m gonna have a heart attack. I just ran into A. And I’m injured. My arm is broken and my leg is broken.”

On hearing of the accident, B said to Z, “M’gosh, C was reckless.”

Lawsuits, naturally, ensue, including the following federal civil actions:

A brings a civil action against B. A seeks to recover on a theory of respondeat superior, for injuries inflicted by the negligent acts of B’s employee, C, while in the course of B’s employment.

A brings a separate civil action against C. He seeks to recover for personal injuries negligently inflicted by C.

C brings a civil action against B. He seeks to recover damages for injuries sustained while on the job.

B’s pretrial statement “M’gosh, C was reckless” is offered in the trial of A v B.
B objects that the statement is hearsay.

The objection is overruled. Explain why.

B’s pretrial statement is offered in the trial of A v. C.
C objects on the ground of hearsay.

A replies that B’s statement is an admission.

A is wrong. Please explain why.

A tries again: He states, “Your Honor, B’s statement is plainly against his interest. It is admissible under the exception for statements against interest.”

The trial judge responds, “No it isn’t.”

Explain the trial judge’s reply. Give two reasons why the trial judge is correct.

C’s pretrial statement “I’m about to kick the bucket. I’m gonna have a heart attack. I just ran into A. And I’m injured. My leg arm is broken and my leg is broken” is offered in the trial of C v. B.
B responds, “It’s hearsay, Your Honor.

C replies, “It’s a dying declaration, your Honor.”

B responds, “This isn’t a murder case. And C isn’t dead. His statement isn’t a dying declaration. And he’s offering the statement on his own behalf.”

The trial judge replies, “C’s statement is not admissible as a dying declaration. But not for the reasons you gave, counsel.”

The trial judge is correct. Please explain.

Does C’s statement nevertheless overcome the hearsay hurdle? If so, please explain why.

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The "evidence module" of Spindle Law has quite a bit of material about the hearsay rule, hearsay exemptions, and hearsay exceptions.

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