EvidenceProf Blog

Editor: Colin Miller
Univ. of South Carolina School of Law

Friday, November 2, 2007

Hillary Censored?: Judge Finds Hillary Clinton's Videotaped Statement Inadmissible in Stan Lee Media Case

Some of you may have heard about the recent allegations involving the Clintons and their alleged reneging on a deal that they had with fledgling Stan Lee Media in 2000.  Apparently, many of you might have heard about the allegations because the trailer for the upcoming documentary "Hillary Uncensored," which documents these allegations, has been the #1 most viewed piece on Google video.

Here's a threadbare introduction to the facts.  Peter Paul and pal Stan Lee (of comic book fame) started Stan Lee Media and sought to have Bill Clinton sign on as a "rainmaker" to promote the business overseas.  Apparently, the quid pro quo for Clinton's participation was to consist of Paul becoming a major donor for Al Gore's Presidential campaign and Hillary Clinton's senatorial campaign.  Paul claims that part of this support, which totaled $2 million, was a $68,000 fundraiser involving celebrities such as Brad Pitt, John Travolta, and Jennifer Aniston.

According to Paul, however, the Clintons backed out when they learned that he had past felony convictions and acted as if they didn't know him; not only did Bill fail to promote Stan Lee Media, but he also lured away one of its chief investors.  Paul has thus sued the Clintons in California, claiming that their actions destroyed Stan Lee Media and violated several U.S. statutes.  For her part, Hillary has claimed, inter alia, that she barely knew Paul and that he is a criminal and professional liar who cannot be trusted.

I don't know nearly enough about this lawsuit to be able to say whether it has any merit, but I am confused by an evidentiary ruling made by the judge hearing the case.  Part of "Hillary Uncensored" consists of a video of a conference call apparently concerning the fundraiser with Paul, Stan Lee, Aaron Tonken, and Alana Stewart on one end, and Hillary on the other end. 

In the video, Hillary says, "Whatever it is you're doing, is it OK if I thank you? ... I am very appreciative and it sounds fabulous. I got a full report from Kelly (White House adviser Kelly Craighead) today when she got back and told me everything that you're doing and it just sounds like it's going to be a great event. But I just wanted to call and personally thank all of you. I'm glad you're all together so I could tell you how much this means to me, and it's going to mean a lot to the president, too." 

According to this article, the judge hearing the case recently ruled that the video was inadmissible at trial.  Maybe there are factors at play of which I'm not aware, but I don't see why this video would be inadmissible under California's Evidence Code.  Section 1220 of California's Evidence Code states that    "[e]vidence of a statement is not made inadmissible by the hearsay rule when offered against the declarant in an action to which he is a party in either his individual or representative capacity, regardless of whether the statememt was made in his individual or representative capacity."

Hillary is the declarant who made the statement, and Paul is offering it against her in an action in which she is a party to dispute her claim that she either didn't know him or barely knew him.  Perhaps there is some other reason why the video was excluded, but it shouldn't have been on the ground that the statement was inadmissible hearsay.



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