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Nicole Brown Simpson's Journals: Inadmissible As Hearsay

During the 1995 criminal trial of O. J. SIMPSON, the prosecution argued that Simpson killed his former wife Nicole Brown Simpson, and that the murder was the culmination of a long pattern of DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. The prosecution discovered in a safe-deposit box journals that Brown Simpson had written concerning her problems with Simpson. The journals contained graphic language and described episodes of physical violence and threats committed by Simpson. They appeared to be a powerful demonstration of the couple's relationship, yet they were never entered into evidence at the criminal trial, and Simpson was acquitted in the killings of his former wife and her friend Ronald Lyle Goldman.

The journals were inadmissible because they constituted hearsay evidence. The RULES OF EVIDENCE are generally the same in every state and federal jurisdiction. In California, where Simpson's criminal trial was held, hearsay evidence cannot be admitted unless it meets the requirements of a well-defined exception.

Oral hearsay (what one person tells another about a third person) is the same as written hearsay. In her journal Brown Simpson told readers what Simpson did to her. With her death, there was no way for the defense to challenge her memory, perception, and sincerity about what she had written. The rules of evidence view such nonchallengeable out-of-court statements as unreliable when they are intended to prove the truth of the matter they assert—here, that Simpson had beaten Brown Simpson, stalked her, and made her fear for her life.

For the same reasons, the journals were not admitted at Simpson's civil trial in 1997, in which he was found liable for the WRONGFUL DEATHS of Brown Simpson and Goldman.


Simpson, O. J.

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