Yes, he heard her say it.
    No, that doesn’t make it “hearsay.”

Evidence 101: Testimony about what Terri Schiavo said about not wanting to be on life support isn’t hearsay; it’s eyewitness evidence of her statements and thus about her desires.

Matt Conigliaro is tired of hearing the claim that the testimony about Terri Schiavo’s saying that she wouldn’t want to be kept on life support are “hearsay,” and explains the rules of evidence involved.

Shorter version: If I tell you that Tom DeLay is a crook and you testify later about my words in court to show that Tom DeLay is in fact a crook, that’s hearsay, and excluded. But if you testify about my statement to show that I believed that Tom DeLay was a crook, or that I wanted Tom DeLay to be politically ruined, that’s perfectly good eyewitness testimony as to my words, which are evidence of my beliefs and intentions.

If the question is what Terri Schiavo wanted for herself, what better evidence could there be than what she said? Disbelieving the testimony is one thing. But the people calling it “hearsay” and expressing shock and horror about its admission are talking throgh their hats, either because they misunderstand the law of evidence or because they’re trying to deceive others.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com