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Effect on the Listener

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by: Ryan Scott • December 16, 2016 • no comments

From Justice DeMuniz's concurrence in Sullivan v. Popoff:

The first issue has to do with the relevance of the so-called effect-on-the-listener statements. Every statement has an effect on the mind of those who hear it; therefore, there is always an argument to be made that an out-of-court effect-on-the-listener statement is admissible because it qualifies as "not hearsay." However, an out-of-court statement is not hearsay only if it is (a) relevant, and (b) offered to show the statement's effect upon the listener's state of mind. Laird C. Kirkpatrick, Oregon Evidence § 801.01[3][d], 705 (6th ed. 2013); see, e.g., State v. West, 145 Or.App. 322, 325, 930 P.2d 858 (1996) (police officer could testify to instruction given by another officer to show the instruction's effect on defendant); see also State v. Hren, 237 Or.App. 605, 607, 241 P.3d 1168 (2010) ("Statements that are relevant to show their effect on a listener are not hearsay."). Stated another way, an out-of-court statement may be offered to show that the making of that statement had some effect on the person who heard the statement if that person's state of mind is relevant to an issue in the case. See State v. Thomas, 167 Or.App. 80, 83-84, 1 P.3d 1058 (2000) (trial court erred in excluding as hearsay witness's out-of-court statement offered to prove the effect on the defendant, one of the listeners). Not every out-of-court effect-on-the-listener statement is relevant to an issue in a case. For example, a police officer's state of mind is seldom relevant to an issue in a criminal case. Thus, when dealing with so-called "effect-on-the-listener," or state-of-mind statements, the question, "Is it relevant?" is just as important as the question, "Is it hearsay?" G. Michael Fenner, The Hearsay Rule 331-32 (3d ed. 2013). [Emphasis added.]