Sunday, May 15, 2016

MBE Fast Fact: "Then Existing State of Mind" Exception

One of the many exceptions to the rule against hearsay is the "then existing state of mind." How this generally plays out in questions is that statements of the declarant's intentions are deemed to fit within this exception. In addition, these statements may be relevant to establish that the declarant acted in a way that was consistent with the stated intentions.

It's important to keep in mind, however, that these statements are relevant only to establish the conduct of the declarant him/herself; they are not relevant to establish the conduct of others. So, for example, assume that two defendants are being tried together and a witness testifies on behalf of both defendants. If the witness testifies to a conversation he had with defendant 1 and in doing so testifies to a statement made by defendant 1 that both defendant 1 and defendant 2 intended to be in another state the day that the crime was committed, the statement will be admissible insofar as it helps to establish that defendant 1 was in the state that he claimed to have intended to be in on the day of the crime, but the statement will not be admissible to infer the same about defendant 2.

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