Hearsay Limited to Court of Law

The rules of evidence applicable to courts both state and federal do not apply to Grandma’s bridge club

By Bill Astle

This letter is written in response to the column entitled “Evidentiary Matters” in the Nov. 20 edition of the Flathead Beacon, authored by Tammi Fisher, an attorney and former mayor of Kalispell.

Attorney Fisher sets forth express examples of hearsay and other witness evidence allowed/admitted in the recent congressional impeachment hearing, and that “a judge in any regular court in the country would have excluded.” I concur with her opinion, but hasten to add that hearsay evidence excluded is done so by a court in a court setting bound by such rules of evidence! However, let it be crystal clear, the rules of evidence applicable to courts both state and federal, do not apply to Grandma’s bridge club discussions in the basement of the neighborhood church, nor to Grampa’s coffee klatch group at the local market, indeed to any congressional hearing, whatever the topic may be … as none, named, are courts of law!

In a perfect world it might be a desired goal to eliminate all hearsay, along with gossip if not also, indeed Twitter … but so far hearsay is limited to exclusion in a court of law, by express provisions of the Rules of Evidence, applicable only in said Courts. Of course that is not to say that Grandma, Grandpa, Congress and anybody else on the planet might elect to voluntarily adopt said evidentiary rules, but otherwise, said rules do not matter and indeed are, in the use of an evidentiary pun, “irrelevant.”

Bill Astle