Legal question - hearsay rule

Watching reruns of The Practice I’ve noticed that the judges sometimes allow hearsay to be introduced on the grounds of ‘excited utterance’. As an old fan of legal shows I don’t recall hearing this in LA Law, etc. Is it a relatively new legal rule?

And how does the fact that what was heard was uttered in excitance make the testimony of the listener any more reliable?

Hearsay is excluded because it’s unreliable, but there are certain exceptions to the hearsay rule because it’s thought to have a greater inidica of relaibility. An “excited utterance” is thought to be a more relaible statement because the speaker is making a statement in the heat of the moment and has not had adequate time to fabricate. Another example is a “dying declaration.” The rationale there is that the final words of someone who thinks that they are dying is more relaible because nobody wants to die with a lie on their lips.

In answer to your other question, no, it’s a very old rule. It comes from the common law and is codified as Federal Rule of Evidence 803(2).

hearsay is basically any statement made outside of court


Hearsay is an out of court statement that is offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted in the statement.

Well I once saw one really odd exception to that. I was on a jury and the judge said that we were using a “deposition” because the witness “couldn’t be here” and he said we should count it. So perhaps that is an exception? Anyway they had an actor play the part of the witness, while the lawyer played the part of another lawyer, both reading from the deposition. ( No oscar level performances either.) And the judge can say any damn thing he wants, but we really did not much weight at all to that performance.

I don’t know what “couldn’t be here” means either…in another case I was called as a witness and I certainly had no such option. My only guess is that the “witness” had great connections or something.

No one ever believes me, but this really did happen. It was in Federal court too.

Yup. In Federal practice, it’s 804(b)(1):