Evidence Legal Topics

These Statements Aren’t Hearsay, Even If Admitted for Their Truth

There are several types of statements that, although sought to be admitted in evidence for their underlying truth, aren’t considered hearsay. This means you can get them into evidence and no hearsay exception need apply.

Here are the most noteworthy of the types of statements that aren’t considered hearsay:

Contemporaneous translation. In Correa v Superior Court (2002) 27 C4th 444, 457, the California Supreme Court held that the contemporaneous translation into English of a statement made by a witness or a victim of a crime isn’t hearsay. A hearsay exception isn’t required for its admission in evidence if the translated statement can be fairly attributed to the witness or victim under the circumstances of the case.

In Correa, circumstances indicating that the translated statements could fairly be attributed to the declarants included the following (27 C4th at 466):

  • The translators apparently weren’t previously acquainted with the investigating officers, the declarants, or the defendant;
  • They didn’t appear to have any difficulties in communicating with the declarants;
  • Other evidence corroborated the accuracy of the facts asserted in their translation; and
  • The translators themselves testified at the hearing about their neutrality, their language skills, and the circumstances of the translation.

Computer output. California courts have generally regarded computer output as hearsay. It’s admissible only if it fits within an exception to the hearsay rule, notably the business records exception (Evid C §1271) or the official records exception (Evid C §1280). See People v Martinez (2000) 22 C4th 106, 126 (official record); Aguimatang v California State Lottery (1991) 234 CA3d 769, 797 (business record).

However, information that’s generated by the computer itself isn’t hearsay, “because it’s not a statement by a person.” People v Hawkins (2002) 98 CA4th 1428, 1449. See People v Nazary (2010) 191 CA4th 727, 753 (although issue of whether evidence was offered for truth was technically waived, court agreed with Hawkins analysis in finding that printed portions of receipts from pay island cashier machines, including date, time, and totals, were properly admitted), disapproved on other grounds in People v Vidana (2016) 1 C5th 632, 648 n16.

In People v Rodriguez (2017) 16 CA5th 355, 375, the court held that a computer-generated report of GPS data that was generated by defendant’s ankle monitor didn’t constitute hearsay because it didn’t consist of statements of person. Similarly, the California Supreme Court has held that data recorded by a red-light traffic camera isn’t hearsay because it’s computer-generated and no statement was made by a person as defined by the Evidence Code. People v Goldsmith (2014) 59 C4th 258, 274. See Evid C §§175, 225.

Data in the public eye. In Ampex Corp. v Cargle (2005) 128 CA4th 1569, 1573 n2, computer printouts from a website and a message board were offered to show that they existed in the public eye, not for the truth of the matter asserted and, thus, were not hearsay statements.

For more on what is and isn’t hearsay, turn to CEB’s Jefferson’s California Evidence Benchbook, chap 1 and Effective Introduction of Evidence in California, chap 35.

Other CEBblog™ posts on hearsay issues:

© The Regents of the University of California, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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