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Dall. Cty. v. Commercial Union Assurance Co. - 286 F.2d 388 (5th Cir. 1961)

Rule:

The court does not characterize a newspaper as a business record, nor as an ancient document, nor as any other readily identifiable and happily tagged species of hearsay exception. It is admissible because it is necessary and trustworthy, relevant and material, and its admission is within the trial judge's exercise of discretion in holding the hearing within reasonable bounds.

Facts:

Appellant Dallas county government filed a complaint against appellee Commercial Union Assurance Co., a liability insurance carrier, alleging damage to appellant's insured building, for which appellee denied liability. Over appellant's objection, the trial court admitted a 56-year-old newspaper article offered by appellee. The jury returned a verdict for appellee. 

Issue:

Is a 56-year-old newspaper article admissible as evidence?

Answer:

Yes.

Conclusion:

The court affirmed, holding that in matters of local interest, when the fact in question was of such a public nature that it would be generally known throughout the community, and when the fact occurred so long ago that eyewitness testimony would probably be less trustworthy than a contemporary newspaper account, a federal court, under Fed. R. Civ. P. 43(a), could relax the exclusionary rules to the extent of admitting the newspaper account into evidence. The newspaper article was thus admissible because it was necessary, trustworthy, relevant, and material, and its admission was within the trial judge's discretion in holding the hearing within reasonable bounds.

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