EvidenceProf Blog

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

Monday, October 29, 2012

It Was 20 Years Ago Today: Documents Created On October 29, 1992 Are Now "Ancient" Documents

The other day, as we were toggling through the various music channels in our U-verse package, my wife and I came upon the "Classic Alternative" station. A song came on, possibly from Nirvana, and my wife expressed surprise that something from the early 1990s would be classified as "classic." The evidence analogue to this reaction can be found in Federal Rule of Evidence 803(16) and Federal Rule of Evidence 901(b)(8).

Federal Rule of Evidence 803(16) provides an exception to the rule against hearsay for

Statements in Ancient DocumentsA statement in a document that is at least 20 years old and whose authenticity is established.

Meanwhile, Federal Rule of Evidence 901(b)(8) provides for authentication under the following circumstances:

Evidence About Ancient Documents or Data Compilations. For a document or data compilation, evidence that it:

(A) is in a condition that creates no suspicion about its authenticity;

(B) was in a place where, if authentic, it would likely be; and

(C) is at least 20 years old when offered.

So, as in the recent case, WRR Environmental Services, Inc. v. Admiral Ins. Co., 2012 WL 3904364 (E.D.Wis. 2012), a document is now "ancient" if it was created in 1983. And so is a document created in 1991 (such as the liner notes to "Nevermind") or most of 1992. Next year, In Utero will be 20 years' old. It is odd to think of anything from the early 1990s as "classic." It is even odder to think of that same thing as ancient.



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Not that it is important, since a certified copy of my birth certificate will do - but it was an ancient document in 1968, and Modern Israel also turned Ancient again at the same time. How strange.

Posted by: Rick Underwood | Oct 30, 2012 12:35:17 PM

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