Boys Who Are 3 Ft Tall At 1 Years Old Spontaneous Statements – From the Collection of Useful Hearsay Exceptions

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Spontaneous Statements – From the Collection of Useful Hearsay Exceptions

Sometimes one of the main pieces of evidence in your case is a hearsay statement. It may be an admission by the defendant or the defendant’s agent. This may be testimony from another trial or hearing that directly addresses an issue in your case. Whatever the situation, if you have to present an out-of-court statement as proof of the truth of the matter asserted in the statement itself, you have a problem on your hands.

But like having a flat tire in the rain, it may not be an insurmountable problem. It’s still a problem though, which means you need to plan your solution early enough to implement it. So, when planning your chief case, consider whether you might benefit from the hearsay exception for spontaneous statements. Let me give you an example.

The first case I’ve ever tried before a jury was actually decided on an off-the-cuff statement from an unavailable hearsay reporter. I won this case because I recognized my hearsay problem early enough to successfully implement my solution.

I was pursuing a misdemeanor domestic violence case. The accused was a six-foot-five murderer who weighed 275 pounds. The victim was his five-foot, 90-pound wife. They were camping at the San Elijo Beach Campground, and he cold cocked her with a right crossed clenched fist straight to her eye socket, producing a conspicuous minnow.

The next morning, a ranger approached the couple. When he noticed the woman’s minnow, he asked her, “What happened?” Suddenly she became visibly upset as if reliving the events of the previous night. Tears welled up in his eyes. Then she pointed to her husband and dramatically blurted out, “He hit me!”

One of the social realities of adjudicating domestic violence cases is that victims find themselves in a vicious conflict of interest. On the one hand, they want their abusers incarcerated so that they are safe from physical abuse. But on the other hand, they may be financially dependent on their abusers, and so incarceration would be extremely inconvenient for the household. They also fear reprisals. This leads to a phenomenon commonly referred to as “the retracting witness” or “the recalcitrant victim” or “the absent victim”.

Naturally, at the time of the trial, the woman was “unavailable”. She dodged my subpoenas, slipped into the network of battered and homeless women’s shelters, and disappeared. This meant that my star witness would be the park ranger who had to testify to what she said, which was clearly hearsay.

Enter the spontaneous instruction – also known as the completed statement.

Evidence Code §1240 states that a statement is not inadmissible if it “purports to tell, describe, or explain a perceived act, condition, or event” and was made “spontaneously while the declarant was under stress. of the excitement caused by such a perception”. .”

The case law states that for the exception to apply, there must be (1) an event sufficiently startling to produce “a nervous excitement and to render the utterance spontaneous and thoughtless;” (2) the utterance must have been made before there was time to “invent oneself and denature”, that is to say while the nervous excitation still dominated the faculties of reflection; and (3) “the utterance must relate to the circumstances of the event that gave rise to it.” People v. Poggi (1988) 45 Cal.3d 306, 318. The idea is that statements made in the heat of the moment are less likely to be false.

The admissibility of spontaneous statements is at the discretion of the trial judge. People c. Pearch (1991) 229 Cal.App. 3d 1282, 1290. Often the main problem – as was the case in my domestic violence case – is a time lag between the event and the statement. But the key is that the statement must be made under the stress and excitement of the event “while the thinking powers were still hanging in the balance.” People v. Washington (1969) 71 Cal.2d 1170, 1176.

For example, the statements in Washington were made an hour after the event, but were nonetheless admissible. See also People v. Raley (1992) 2 Cal.4th 870, 893 (18 hour interval); and In re Emilye A. (1992) 9 Cal.App.4th 1695, 1713 (2 day time interval). However, in one case, the court found that 13 hours between the startling event and the statement was too long for the exception to apply. Pearch, supra, 229 Cal.App.3d at 1290.

There is no clear rule regarding the timing of the event and the utterance. The distinction seems to be whether the declarer was still under the stress of the event. In my domestic violence case, for example, the court was persuaded that the victim was under battery stress because she woke up and appeared to be reliving the attack when she identified her husband as the attacker. He was also standing right behind her when the ranger asked “what happened?”

The spontaneous utterance exception is not limited to verbal testimony. Affidavits or statements may also contain hearsay that is admissible under the exception. Mecchi v. Picchi (1966) 245 Cal.Ap.2d 470.

If you plan to introduce a spontaneous statement at trial, make sure you have all the necessary witnesses to lay the groundwork. For example, be sure to call the person who heard the statement. Also, be sure to call the person who can testify to the registrant’s state of mind, i.e. the registrant was excited and under stress from the event.

Finally, be sure to consider all other possible exceptions such as contemporaneous statements (Evid. Code §1241); statements relating to the infliction or threat of physical harm (Evid. Code §1370); statements from an elder or dependent adult victim of abuse (Evid. Code §1380); admissions (Evid. Code §1220); declarations of death (Evid. Code §1242); statements of state of mind, emotion, or physical sensation (Evid. Code §1250); declaration against interest (Evid. Code §1230); or prior inconsistent statements (Evid. Code §1235).

If you know your case hinges on an off-the-cuff statement – ​​or any hearsay exception for that matter – plan early. Try to get your opponent’s stipulation as to admissibility, or alternatively subpoena all founding witnesses, request a Code of Evidence §402 hearing, and/or file in limine motions if necessary. Either way, be proactive about getting your evidence admitted, especially if you can foresee an objection.

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