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Do Not Necessarily Fear a Damaging Statement. If in a Writing- it is still Hearsay

Sometimes in personal injury law things are not as they appear. This can cut in favor of the party suing or against the party suing. It depends upon the knowledge and aggressiveness of the lawyer. An example comes from statements contained in a police report.

At first blush, it may seem very troubling that witness statements quoted in a police report regarding how an accident happened (not necessarily a car accident) are hostile to your client. Fear not, unless the opposing side knew enough to call those eyewitnesses to testify at the trial, an objecting attorney can keep those statements from the jury’s ears. I have successfully objected to the attempted introduction of the contents of a police report, even if the police officer himself/herself is testifying. It is very well-settled law that such statements are hearsay, and, unless within some independent exception to the hearsay rule, are not admissible. Of course, it is a different matter if the declarants who are listed in the police report testify. The hope is that if they have damaging testimony, the defense attorney will erroneously assume that that testimony can come in through the police officer. The fact is it cannot. See Kelly v. O’Neill 1 Mass. App. Ct. 313 (1973) and numerous cases drawing upon common law evidentiary principles.

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