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Legal Memorandum: Admissibility of Medical Articles in GA

Issue: If a proper foundation is laid, may medical articles, excerpts, and guidelines may be admissible ‘learned treatises,’ by arguing for an extension of the related provisions of the Federal Rules of Evidence?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Admissibility of evidence; Learned treatises; Medical articles, excerpts, and guidelines
Jurisdiction: Georgia
Cited Cases: 440 A.2d 952; 185 Conn. 390; 39 S.E. 897; 602 S.E.2d 164
Cited Statutes: Fed. R. Evid. 803(18)
Date: 03/01/2007

An argument exists that the medical articles, excerpts, and guidelines fall within an exception to the hearsay rules because they constitute “learned treatises.”  Given a proper foundation made on the record that the articles are sufficiently authoritative, they may fit within such an exception.  One problem with the argument is that there is no provision under Georgia statutes that explicitly provides for such an exception to the hearsay rules, as there is under the Federal Rules of Evidence.  Moreover, Georgia courts have expressly found that, although authoritative medical articles and texts may be used by experts to form opinions and may be used in questioning and cross-examination of expert witnesses, they are not admissible as exhibits.  Fletcher v. Estes, 602 S.E.2d 164, 165 (Ga. Ct. App. 2004); Boswell v. Georgia, 114 Ga. 40, 39 S.E. 897 (1901).

While no cases were found in Georgia that support the argument, such an exception does exist under Connecticut law, which expressly permits the use of treatises as exhibits and permits them to be considered by the jury during deliberations.  The Connecticut law was set forth in Cross v. Huttenlocher, 185 Conn. 390, 440 A.2d 952 (1981):

Under Connecticut law, if a medical treatise is recognized as authoritative by an expert witness and if it influenced or tended to confirm his opinion, then relevant portions thereof may be admitted into evidence in the exercise of the trial court’s discretion. This approach differs […]

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