March 20, 2017 Articles

Rule 803(8) and the Increasing Role of the Internet

Courts have largely moved on from the era of "voodoo information"

by Cathleen Hartge

In 1999, a district court judge in Texas unceremoniously rejected a plaintiff’s efforts to overcome a motion to dismiss with “voodoo information taken from the Internet”—a technology that the court “view[ed] . . . largely as one large catalyst for rumor, innuendo, and misinformation.” St. Clair v. Johnny’s Oyster & Shrimp, Inc., 76 F. Supp. 2d 773, 774–75 (S.D. Tex. 1999). While some things haven’t changed much (including the Internet’s capacity for spreading “rumor, innuendo, and misinformation”), others have—including courts’ willingness to entertain arguments that certain Internet records qualify as public records under the hearsay exception in Federal Rule of Evidence 803(8).

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