Is a corporation a person for purposes of hearsay rule?

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ktc88
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Joined: Tue Feb 22, 2011 6:13 pm

Is a corporation a person for purposes of hearsay rule?

Postby ktc88 » Fri Apr 12, 2013 8:34 pm

Hi all,

F.R.E. 801(a): “Statement” means a person's oral assertion, written assertion, or nonverbal conduct, if the person intended it as an assertion.
F.R.E. 801(b): “Declarant” means the person who made the statement.

Working on a Motion in Limine and am trying to figure out if the evidence I'm working with is hearsay. For some reason I am coming up short on Westlaw. I know hearsay applies to corporate agents / employees just like it would any other person. I also know it applies to machine stored statements (email), but not machine generated statements (radar gun).

But is a corporation itself a person for purposes of the hearsay rule? It seems to me that it should be as most statements characterized as being of the corporation is ultimately made by a human person. Take for example an online catalog. I would think the statements made in an online catalog would be characterized as those of the corporation. Would the catalog be hearsay, despite it being a statement of the corporation rather than an agent / employee? I mean, someone had to input the information for the corporation.

And what about a machine generated corporate statement? Say you purchase something online and receive an email receipt. Not hearsay b/c machine generated?

Your thoughts and input are appreciated. Would also appreciate any authority that anyone is aware of going to these issues.

Thank you.

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Tom Joad
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Re: Is a corporation a person for purposes of hearsay rule?

Postby Tom Joad » Fri Apr 12, 2013 10:46 pm

I think it would most likely be admissible hearsay. Even things like computer print outs of blood alcohol tests can be treated as hearsay, but I assume it would come in through the business records exception.

BmoreSmarter
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Re: Is a corporation a person for purposes of hearsay rule?

Postby BmoreSmarter » Fri Apr 12, 2013 11:00 pm

well i can tell you for sure that a print out of corporate documents is not a person for the purposes of driving in an HOV lane

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Tom Joad
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Re: Is a corporation a person for purposes of hearsay rule?

Postby Tom Joad » Fri Apr 12, 2013 11:21 pm

Cite to the HLS alumni, Willard Mitt Romney, "Corporations are people, my friend."

lawschoolsoldier
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Re: Is a corporation a person for purposes of hearsay rule?

Postby lawschoolsoldier » Mon Apr 15, 2013 2:43 pm

Corporations are not people under any circumstances.. they are legal fictions.

Omerta
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Re: Is a corporation a person for purposes of hearsay rule?

Postby Omerta » Fri Apr 19, 2013 9:36 pm

ktc88 wrote:Hi all,


But is a corporation itself a person for purposes of the hearsay rule? It seems to me that it should be as most statements characterized as being of the corporation is ultimately made by a human person. Take for example an online catalog. I would think the statements made in an online catalog would be characterized as those of the corporation. Would the catalog be hearsay, despite it being a statement of the corporation rather than an agent / employee? I mean, someone had to input the information for the corporation.

And what about a machine generated corporate statement? Say you purchase something online and receive an email receipt. Not hearsay b/c machine generated?
Thank you.


A corporation can only speak through agents, so look to whoever the speaker was and go for 801(d)(2)(d) if the corp is a party opponent. Otherwise, 803(6). Otherwise, depends on what the particular circumstances are. Take your catalog example. If it's a party opponent, use 801. If it's a nonparty, bring it in under 803(6) (it's part of their regular biz activity and keeping archived versions of the site would be part of that regular course, bring in the webmaster or whatever or get his certification). If you can't do either of those, say it's not offered for the truth of the matter asserted, but to go subsequent action or information that was available to the P or whatever (thus not hearsay).

Totally machine generated statements are NOT hearsay because they lack a declarant. It depends on how automated the process is to create the statement. Stuff that requires human input (like breath tests) are still generally considered hearsay.




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