This post follows up to my initial post of March 30, 2017 on the topic of hearsay. In this short post, I discuss the first of what Pennsylvania recognizes as 16 exceptions to hearsay. That is, in Pennsylvania, 16 different scenarios may technically qualify as a “hearsay statement”—a statement made outside of court being offered in court to prove the truth of the matter asserted—but these scenarios present with a level of “trustworthiness” to them that we say “they’re okay, they can qualify as admissible evidence in court.”
So the first exception is the present sense impression. The exception is defined as:
A statement describing or explaining an event or condition, made while or immediately after the declarant perceived it. Pa.R.Evid. 803(1).
Now, why do we let this out-of-court statement made by another person to be rehashed in court by someone else? The rationale for this exception is this: “the relative immediacy of the declaration insures that there will have been little opportunity for reflection or calculated misstatement.” Commonwealth v. Coleman, 326 A.2d 387, 389 (Pa. 1974). In plain english: a statement made by someone simultaneously with their observation is likely a trustworthy statement (ex: He just hit a grand slam!). We feel good that such statements are not fabricated, they are reliable, and therefore they can be admitted in court.