Legal Memorandum: Admissibility of Hearsay Evidence in MN

Issue: Is hearsay evidence ever admissible under Minnesota Law?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Hearsay evidence; Admissibility; Exception
Jurisdiction: Minnesota
Cited Cases: None
Cited Statutes: Minn. R. Evid. 801(c); Minn. R. Evid. 801(d)(2); Minn. R. Evid. 803(3); Minn. R. Evid. 803(1); Fed. R. Evid. 803(1); Minn. R. Evid. 804(a)(4); Minn. R. Evid. 804(b)(3)
Date: 02/01/2012

Minn. R. Evid. 801(c) provides that “hearsay” is a statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the trial or hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted.  A statement is not hearsay if the statement is offered against a party, and is the party’s own statement, in either an individual or representative capacity.  Id. at R. 801(d)(2).  The Committee Comment to this Rule explains that these “party admissions” are admissible because the requirements of trustworthiness, firsthand knowledge, or rules against opinion that may be applicable in determining whether or not a hearsay statement should be admissible do not apply when dealing with party admissions.  That is, “[b]ecause the rationale for their admissibility is based more on the nature of the adversary system than in principles of trustworthiness or necessity, it makes sense to treat party admissions as nonhearsay.”  Id., Committee Comments. 

If an out-of-court statement is deemed hearsay, however, it is, of course, inadmissible, unless it fits one of the recognized exceptions.  See id. at R. 802.  Exceptions exist for, among other things, statements of the declarant’s then-existing state mind, but not including a statement of memory or belief to prove the fact remembered or believed.  Id. at R. 803(3). 

Even if an out-of-court statement does not specifically fit into any of the exceptions set out in Rule 803, which apply whether or not the declarant is available to testify, the statement may still be admitted if […]

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