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Becuase it's pissing me off... [Apr. 8th, 2005|07:58 pm]
A quick lesson on the legal system.

"Hearsay" is when a person is reporting on something that they have no direct evidence for.

If Ozzie tells you that Harriet is cheating on him, you can't testify in court that Harriet was cheating on Ozzie. To do so would be hearsay, and your testimony would be ruled inadmissible.

But, here's the most important part: if, for some reason, the court wanted to know if Ozzie *said* Harriet was cheating on him (perhaps, to establish that he considered the behavior to be cheating, if Harriet was claiming she had permission), *then* you're allowed to testify, admissibly, that Ozzie told you that Harriet was cheating on him.

What it comes down to is this: you can only report what you actually know.

Okay... but what if Ozzie was cheating on Harriet, and told you? Could you then testify that Ozzie was cheating on Harriet?

Darn good question. I admit I don't know the answer to that one. However, you could, again, with no questions asked, testify to what he said.

Finally, if Ozzie said he liked hot dogs with mustard, while about to take a huge bite of a hot dog with mustard, the court will seriously consider your claim to know "Ozzie like hot dogs with mustard."

Is that clear? Anyone who misuses the term "hearsay" for the next twenty four hours is going to have to live with the fact that I will fantasize about cartoon violence with respect to that misuse of the term.

(I wonder if someone is going to change *that* into a desire to beat up an unrelated party.)

I'm sure anyone who cares knows why the misuse of "hearsay" is pissing me off. The rest, well, they're probably sick of it, so I won't explain further unless asked.

However, there are people claiming that it's "hearsay" to testify that Ozzie said he liked hot dogs with mustard in a context involving hot dogs.

(For those of you who *still* don't know why I'm bringing this up, thank your lucky stars. Trust me.)

[User Picture]From: nsingman
2005-04-09 09:33 am (UTC)
I'll take your word for it, John, so I'll be thankful. Do you remember Robert Heinlein's "fair witnesses" in "Stranger in a Strange Land?" There wouldn't be a problem identifying hearsay were most witnesses remotely like those fair witnesses.
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[User Picture]From: johnpalmer
2005-04-09 06:48 pm (UTC)
Actually, the irony in this case just struck me. People are insisting (based upon what they've heard) that certain evidence in a certain situation was "hearsay", because it reported witnesses testifying to what a person said.

(e.g.: "Ozzie said he liked hot dogs")

Except, these people don't have the information in front of them, and are making their statements based upon what they've been told about the situation (or about the definition of hearsay).

In short, these people are demonstrating *why* hearsay is considered poor quality evidence.

Boy, if the entire situation didn't annoy me so much, this would almost be fascinating (and funny as all heck).
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