March 20, 2017 Articles

Which Hearsay Exception Admits Marriage Certificates? Rule 803(12) Says "I Do"

Litigants should bear in mind that a certificate's survival of a hearsay objection does not mean it is properly authenticated or cannot be refuted

by Sarah P. Hogarth

The exception from hearsay for certificates of marriage, baptism, and similar ceremonies under Federal Rule of Evidence 803(12) is rarely discussed or litigated despite its routine use. As a matter of course, to prove a ceremonial marriage, a party uses hearsay—namely, the marriage certificate. The certificate survives a hearsay objection because of Rule 803(12).

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