March 20, 2017 Articles

It’s a Family Affair under Rule 803(13)

Litigants have several options for getting facts concerning family or personal history admitted

by Mary Hallerman

Facts contained in family records have long been excepted from the bar on hearsay. Rule 803(13) codifies this long-standing exception, permitting the admissibility of “a statement of fact about personal or family history contained in a family record, such as a Bible, genealogy, chart, engraving on a ring, inscription on a portrait, or engraving on an urn or burial marker.” Fed. R. Evid. 803(13). Although the family records exception is infrequently discussed or litigated, Mueller and Kirkpatrick observe that it best demonstrates “the depths of obscurity, and the flavor of antiquity that come with the hearsay doctrine.” 4 Christopher B. Mueller & Laird C. Kirkpatrick, Federal Evidence § 8:97 (4th ed.).

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