Dallas County v. Commercial Union Assurance Co.

286 F.2d 388 (5th Cir. 1961).

An old courthouse bell tower collapsed and cost about 100,000 to repair. The town sought to make the repairs with income from an insurance claim. A claim could be made if the courthouse fell from fire or lightning. Thus, the county provided evidence to show that the tower fell from a lightning strike, and charred wood came from the lightning strike. On the other hand, the insurance companies said it was faulty contstruction and the charred wood came from a fire in the courthouse reported in a newspaper nearly 60 years previously. In question is whether the newspaper article could come into evidence.

The article is hearsay. However, it can be admitted if there is an exception. Here, the court says that if there is a need for the article, and there is no question about its trustworthiness, it may be admitted. The article is old, so any other sources for verification of the fire is slim (bears in favor of admission by necessity). Additionally, the article is trustworthy. That is, the author would have faced ridicule for making a false report at the time. So, the article could be admitted as testimony.

So, what is the residual exception? It simply states that when no other hearsay exception rule applies, but there is need for the material and no doubt about the reliability, the evidence may still be admitted.


The content contained in this article may contain inaccuracies and is not intended to reflect the opinions, views, beliefs, or practices of any academic professor or publication. Instead, this content is a reflection on the author’s understanding of the law and legal practices.

Categories: 2L Spring, Evidence

Will Laursen

Show Your Support


Table of Contents