Double Hearsay Legal Definition:

Recitals of statements of others within a statement that is itself hearsay; an out-of-court declaration containing another out-of-court declaration.

Related Terms: Hearsay

In Com v Laich, Justice Nigro of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania wrote:

"Hearsay is an out-of-court statement offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted in the statement. An out-of-court declaration containing another out-of-court declaration is double hearsay."

In Estate of Poulus, Justice McCormick of the Supreme Court of Iowa noted that:

"We have long held that medical and hospital records are admissible, upon proper foundation, as an exception to the hearsay rule. We have recognized, however, that this does not necessarily make everything in the records admissible.... [H]earsay statements in medical and hospital records which are not germane to physical condition or medical treatment are inadmissible unless nonprejudicial.

"This is referred to by commentators as the double hearsay rule. The hospital record is hearsay. It is admissible under an exception to the hearsay rule. But it may include recitals of statements of others, including the patient. This included hearsay is the subject of the double hearsay rule. Included hearsay is inadmissible, upon proper objection, unless it independently comes within a recognized exception to the hearsay rule."

In People v Pugh, Justice Denman of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York used these words to exclude evidence:

"Murfitt's testimony as to what Stevens told him that decedent had told Stevens would be double hearsay, incapable of verification or cross-examination, and we can think of no basis on which it should have been admitted."

In W. v M., Justice Leggatt of the British Columbia Supreme Court wrote, at ¶10:

"[P]aragraph 16 in J.M.N.'s affidavit contains double hearsay. The deponent states that through family members she found out that another person, M., had received threatening phone calls. Such a statement by a deponent has no probative value and is clearly inadmissible."

REFERENCES:

  • Com. v. Laich, 777 A. 2d 1057 (2001)
  • In re Estate of Poulos, 229 NW 2d 721 (1975)
  • People v. Pugh, 487 NYS 2d 415 (1985)
  • W. v M.,CPC 4th 51 (1996)

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