The CCA, Tenn. R. Evid. 803(26), and Prior Inconsistent Statements as Substantive Evidence

The CCA, Tenn. R. Evid. 803(26), and Prior Inconsistent Statements as Substantive Evidence

By Stevie Phillips

In State v. Ackerman, the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals addressed Tennessee Rule of Evidence 803(26), a hearsay exception adopted in 2009 that allows admission of some prior inconsistent statements as substantive evidence. 

The Rule states that the following are not excluded by the hearsay rule:

A statement otherwise admissible under Rule 613(b) if all of the following conditions are satisfied:      
(A) The declarant must testify at the trial or hearing and be subject to cross-examination concerning the statement.                                                                                                                                                                    
(B) The statement must be an audio or video recorded statement, a written statement signed by the witness, or a statement given under oath.                                                                                                             
(C) The judge must conduct a hearing outside the presence of the jury to determine by a preponderance of the evidence that the prior statement was made under circumstances indicating trustworthiness.
The CCA emphasized that

[t]o be admissible as substantive evidence via Rule 803(26), a statement must first be admissible as a prior inconsistent statement via Rule 613(b). That rule provides that ‘[e]xtrinsic evidence of a prior inconsistent statement by a witness is not admissible unless and until the witness is afforded an opportunity to explain or deny the same and the opposite party is afforded an opportunity to interrogate the witness thereon, or the interests of justice otherwise require.
The admissibility of a prior inconsistent statement as substantive evidence will often turn, therefore, on whether the witness testifies in an inconsistent manner.  As the CCA explained, the witness must deny the statement, equivocate about having made the statement, or testify inconsistently and then testify that he or she does not recall making the prior inconsistent statement.  Finally, the court noted that nothing in Rule 803(26) “permits the admission of a witness’s prior statement in its entirety.”

The full opinion can be found here

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