Hearsay question - halp!

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EijiMiyake
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Hearsay question - halp!

Postby EijiMiyake » Wed Dec 14, 2011 3:44 pm

Evidence people,

A hearsay question that I've been struggling with. Any insight is much appreciated:

Can the display of an inanimate object be hearsay?
For example, what if I testify about a speedometer reading? The speedometer is sort of "asserting" something, but it would seem strange to bar this.

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happy187
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Re: Hearsay question - halp!

Postby happy187 » Wed Dec 14, 2011 3:55 pm

The radar gun isn't a declerant. It is not capable of making a statement. I was always told to be non admissable hearsay it must be a human declerant.

mighttransfer
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Re: Hearsay question - halp!

Postby mighttransfer » Wed Dec 14, 2011 4:02 pm

I would argue that the speedometer reading is not an assertion, but rather just a manifestation of knowledge in the sense that the speedometer merely indicates the speed with which one is traveling. One could argue that the speedometer intends to communicate the fact of speed to the driver of the vehicle. But the better argument is that the speedometer, in displaying speed, merely manifests its knowledge of speed to the driver. Also, SINCERITY is the testimonial capacity that the Rules are concerned about regarding assertions. In that respect, my Evidence professor stated that in evaluating whether something is an assertion, you should ask: Could this be a lie? While the speedometer might be slightly off in its measurement, there is absolute zero risk that the speedometer is lying. Moreover, hearsay is concerned with the testimonial capacities (i.e., human capacities) of the declarant. Those concerns really aren't implicated by a speedometer, except to the extent that one can attribute errors in the speedometer reading to the persons who developed/installed the device (but such concerns are nominal).

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EijiMiyake
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Re: Hearsay question - halp!

Postby EijiMiyake » Wed Dec 14, 2011 4:05 pm

TY. That was my initial reaction as well. However, my confusion stems from the forensic/Conf. Clause cases (melendez-dias/bullcoming). Why would the printout from a forensic lab be a statement, but a speedometer not be?

mighttransfer
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Re: Hearsay question - halp!

Postby mighttransfer » Wed Dec 14, 2011 4:13 pm

A printout from a forensic lab (I'm assuming that you are referring to a crime analyst report) contains factual judgments based on lab tests and calculations that are developed and applied by people. It is true that often times a machine will run calculations and produce lab results. But all such calculations and results are derived from data/information that people developed and then inputted into the machine. The speedometer, by contrast, calculates speed on its own, and it does so by analyzing variables independent of human input. That's what I would argue.

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Cupidity
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Re: Hearsay question - halp!

Postby Cupidity » Wed Dec 14, 2011 4:16 pm

Yeah, just 901 it.

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englawyer
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Re: Hearsay question - halp!

Postby englawyer » Thu Dec 15, 2011 12:58 am

mighttransfer wrote:A printout from a forensic lab (I'm assuming that you are referring to a crime analyst report) contains factual judgments based on lab tests and calculations that are developed and applied by people. It is true that often times a machine will run calculations and produce lab results. But all such calculations and results are derived from data/information that people developed and then inputted into the machine. The speedometer, by contrast, calculates speed on its own, and it does so by analyzing variables independent of human input. That's what I would argue.


+1

A computer printout of lab results is really a statement within a statement. The lab technician is declaring "these are the inputs and this is the algorithm I will use to process the inputs" and the computer is processing the inputs according to the tech's specifications and declaring the output. The first declaration is hearsay, and the technician must testify unless a hearsay exception applies. The second declaration is not hearsay because its a non-human declarant (see FRE 801(b), referring to "person").

A weak hearsay argument also applies to the algorithm itself, which could be said to be a declaration of the programmer. In the speedometer case, a programmer somewhere wrote the algorithm to calculate speed as output based on several inputs. That is a statement offered for the truth. However, this is a strong case for 807, and there is a strong judicial economy rationale to allow these statements without programmer testimony.

truevines
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Re: Hearsay question - halp!

Postby truevines » Thu Dec 15, 2011 1:08 am

englawyer wrote:
mighttransfer wrote:A printout from a forensic lab (I'm assuming that you are referring to a crime analyst report) contains factual judgments based on lab tests and calculations that are developed and applied by people. It is true that often times a machine will run calculations and produce lab results. But all such calculations and results are derived from data/information that people developed and then inputted into the machine. The speedometer, by contrast, calculates speed on its own, and it does so by analyzing variables independent of human input. That's what I would argue.


+1

A computer printout of lab results is really a statement within a statement. The lab technician is declaring "these are the inputs and this is the algorithm I will use to process the inputs" and the computer is processing the inputs according to the tech's specifications and declaring the output. The first declaration is hearsay, and the technician must testify unless a hearsay exception applies. The second declaration is not hearsay because its a non-human declarant (see FRE 801(b), referring to "person").

A weak hearsay argument also applies to the algorithm itself, which could be said to be a declaration of the programmer. In the speedometer case, a programmer somewhere wrote the algorithm to calculate speed as output based on several inputs. That is a statement offered for the truth. However, this is a strong case for 807, and there is a strong judicial economy rationale to allow these statements without programmer testimony.



Following the same line of reasoning, a drug-detection dog has the same problem: It barks because it is so trained. We need to looking into the barking training.

This is not a hearsay argument; this is more like expert testimony and scientific evidence, which requires scrutiny over the data, the method and the reasoning process.




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