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Georgia Code Of Evidence Could Be Changed in 2011

Georgia trial lawyers on both sides of the fence have been pushing to modernize the Georgia code of evidence. The current version was enacted during the Civil War era and the changes would bring the laws of evidence in Georgia state courts in line with those used in federal court. Many states have done this over time, and it is generally viewed as a positive development.

Proposed legislation could be passed this year that would bring Georgia’s code of evidence more in line with the federal rules of evidence, eliminate Georgia’s arcane hearsay rules (and some questionable exceptions to hearsay) and modernize trial procedure that would make more sense in introducing medical records into evidence at trial.

As an Atlanta Injury Lawyer, I support the proposed changes and hope they become law.

Attorney Robert J. Fleming has been handling wrongful death cases, automobile accident cases, personal injury cases, dental malpractice and medical malpractice lawsuits for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 20 years in and around Atlanta, Georgia and its surrounding areas, including Alpharetta, Austell, Avondale Estates, Chamblee, College Park, Conyers, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, and Smyrna. If you have been seriously injured and would like quality legal representation, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.

Source: Ben Smith: “Groups Hope For Evidence Code Rewrite” Daily Report, December 31, 2010.

Update, the Georgia Code of Evidence was changed in 2011 and the changes brought the rules of Georgia trial evidence more in line with the Federal Rules of Evidence. A good example is the new definition of hearsay, which appears in the Official Code of Georgia as follows:

§ 24-8-801

As used in this chapter, the term:

(a) “Statement” means:

(1) An oral or written assertion; or

(2) Nonverbal conduct of a person, if it is intended by the person as an assertion.

(b) “Declarant” means a person who makes a statement.

(c) “Hearsay” means 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.

(d) “Hearsay” shall be subject to the following exclusions and conditions:

(1) Prior statement by witness.

(A) An out-of-court statement shall not be hearsay if the declarant testifies at the trial or hearing, is subject to cross-examination concerning the statement, and the statement is admissible as a prior inconsistent statement or a prior consistent statement under Code Section 24-6-613 or is otherwise admissible under this chapter.

(B) If a hearsay statement is admitted and the declarant does not testify at the trial or hearing, other out-of-court statements of the declarant shall be admissible for the limited use of impeaching or rehabilitating the credibility of the declarant, and not as substantive evidence, if the other statements qualify as prior inconsistent statements or prior consistent statements under Code Section 24-6-613.

(C) A statement shall not be hearsay if the declarant testifies at the trial or hearing and is subject to cross-examination concerning the statement, and the statement is one of identification of a person made after perceiving the person; and

(2) Admissions by party-opponent. Admissions shall not be excluded by the hearsay rule. An admission is a statement offered against a party which is:

(A) The party’s own statement, in either an individual or representative capacity;

(B) A statement of which the party has manifested an adoption or belief in its truth;

(C) A statement by a person authorized by the party to make a statement concerning the subject;

(D) A statement by the party’s agent or employee, but not including any agent of the state in a criminal proceeding, concerning a matter within the scope of the agency or employment, made during the existence of the relationship; or

(E) A statement by a co-conspirator of a party during the course and in furtherance of the conspiracy, including a statement made during the concealment phase of a conspiracy. A conspiracy need not be charged in order to make a statement admissible under this subparagraph.

The contents of the statement shall be considered but shall not alone be sufficient to establish the declarant’s authority under subparagraph (C) of this paragraph, the agency or employment relationship and scope thereof under subparagraph (D) of this paragraph, or the existence of the conspiracy and the participation therein of the declarant and the party against whom the statement is offered under subparagraph (E) of this paragraph.

(e) “Public office” means:

(1) Every state department, agency, board, bureau, commission, division, public corporation, and authority;

(2) Every county, municipal corporation, school district, or other political subdivision of this state;

(3) Every department, agency, board, bureau, commission, authority, or similar body of each such county, municipal corporation, or other political subdivision of this state; and

(4) Every city, county, regional, or other authority established pursuant to the laws of this state.

(f) “Public official” means an elected or appointed official.

(g) “Public record” means information that is inscribed on a tangible medium or that is stored in an electronic or other medium and is retrievable in perceivable form and created in the course of the operation of a public office.

HISTORY: Code 1981, § 24-8-801, enacted by Ga. L. 2011, p. 99, § 2/HB 24.

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