Touro Law Review
Reliability has been defined as "worthy of dependence" or "of proven consistency in producing satisfactory results." It is a common concept as well as a quality for which individuals search in their everyday transactions, such as purchasing a car or selecting an express delivery service. It similarly shapes the rules of evidence pertaining to hearsay. Beth common law and modem evidentiary codes ban the admission of extrajudicial statements offered to prove the truth of a matter asserted because they are not made under oath, in the presence of the trier of fact, and subject to cross-examination. Without these safeguards, the trier of fact cannot evaluate the witness' perception, memory, or narration, and therefore not the statement's reliability. Furthermore, the use of hearsay denies those against whom the statement is offered the opportunity to both challenge the information itself and confront its declarant. There are, however, instances in which evidence that otherwise would qualify as hearsay possesses sufficient indicia of reliability to merit admission. Some kinds of hearsay provide the trier of fact with a more accurate source of facts than a witness' first hand remembrance of information, and therefore, an exception is made to the rule excluding hearsay. In other cases, exceptions are made because the hearsay has circumstantial guarantees of trustworthiness that, although not equivalent to in-court testimony, at least provide sufficient reliability so that admission is preferable to the loss of relevant evidence. The hearsay exception for declarations against interest falls into the latter category.
Michael M. Martin,
Supreme Court Rules on Statements against Interest, The , 11 Touro L. Rev. 179 (1994-1995)
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