Legal Memorandum: Present Sense Impression

Issue: Whether a Statement Is Admissible as a Present Sense Impression under Fed. R. Evid. 803(1).

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Present sense impression; Hearsay evidence
Jurisdiction: Federal, Third Circuit, Virgin Islands
Cited Cases: 754 F. Supp. 61; 83 F. Supp. 2d 535; 74 F. Supp. 2d 444; 362 F. Supp. 2d 487; 497 U.S. 805; 155 S.W.3d 184; 145 F.3d 572
Cited Statutes: Fed. R. Evid. 803(1), 804(a)
Date: 01/01/2006

  A declarant is deemed unavailable to testify in court due to lack of memory of the subject matter of the statement, or illness or infirmity of the declarant.  Fed. R. Evid. 804(a); Gov’t of V.I. v. Riley, 754 F. Supp. 61, 64 (D.V.I. 1991).  The hearsay exceptions  however, do not depend on the declarant’s unavailability for their admission.

Under Fed. R. Evid. 803(1), an out-of-court statement is admissible if it meets the criteria for a present sense impression.  The statement is a present sense impression if it is “[a] statement describing or explaining an event or condition made while the declarant was perceiving the event or condition or immediately thereafter.”  Id.

“Three principal requirements must be met before hearsay evidence may be admitted as a present sense impression:  (1) the declarant must have personally perceived the event described; (2) the declaration must be an explanation or description of the event rather than a narration; and (3) the declaration and the evident must be contemporaneous.”  Billebault v. DiBattiste, No. CIV. A. 96-6501 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 29, 1999) (citing United States v. Mitchell, 145 F.3d 572, 576 (3d Cir. 1998)).  Accord Tracinda Corp. v. DaimlerChrysler AG, 362 F. Supp. 2d 487 (D. Del. 2005) (citing United States v. Mitchell, 145 F.3d 572, 576 (3d Cir. 1998)); Gov’t of the V.I. v. Thompson, No. CRIM. F434/2002 (V.I. Super Ct. Mar. 10, 2005) (same).

In Tracinda, there was an issue surrounding the […]

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