EvidenceProf Blog

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

Friday, December 7, 2012

Certificate Of Completion: Court Of Appeals Of Ohio Finds Uncertified Court Documents Not Self-Authenticating

Similar to its federal counterpartOhio Rule of Evidence 902(4) provides for self-authentication of

A copy of an official record or report or entry therein, or of a document authorized by law to be recorded or filed and actually recorded or filed in a public office, including data compilations in any form, certified as correct by the custodian or other person authorized to make the certification, by certificate complying with paragraph (1), (2), or (3) of this rule or complying with any law of a jurisdiction, state or federal, or rule prescribed by the Supreme Court of Ohio.

Because such a record or report is self-authenticating, "[e]xtrinsic evidence of authenticity as a condition precedent to admissibility is not required..." But, if such a record or report is not accompanied by the requisite certification, it is not self-authenticating under Rule 902(4), which was the problem for the appellee in Emerson Family Ltd. Partnership v. Emerson Tool, L.L.C., 2012 WL 6033142 (Ohio App. 9 Dist. 2012).

In Emerson Tool

Emerson [Family Ltd.} filed a complaint against Ohio Knife, alleging that Emerson Tool Company, LLC, now known as Ohio Knife, had converted certain pieces of equipment. Specifically, it alleged that Ohio Knife's predecessor had leased the equipment from Emerson in 2000 and failed to return it when the lease expired in 2007.

Ohio Knife thereafter moved for summary judgment dismissing the complaint, and the trial court granted the motion. Emerson Family Ltd. thereafter appealed, claiming that the trial court improperly relied upon unsworn and uncertified documents that, on their face, purported to be journal entries and other filings from various courts.

Ohio Knife responded that the documents were self-authenticating under Ohio Rule of Evidence 902(4), but the court of appeals disagreed, concluding that

Although public records require no extrinsic evidence of authenticity if properly certified, none of these records bore any certification. Evid.R. 902(4) Evid.R. 902(4). Even if the attorney had personal knowledge about where he received the documents and received them directly from the keeper of those records, an attestation to that effect does not serve to authenticate them....Documents can be certified as correct only by "the custodian of the document or another individual with personal knowledge that the document is what its proponent purports it to be."



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