Some Observations on the Law of Evidence (with D. Slesinger), 28 Columbia Law Review 432 (1928)
Spontaneous utterances, exclamations or declarations are, under
certain conditions, admissible in evidence though the party who made
them does not take the stand. According to most courts the occasion
must be startling enough to cause shock, which in turn creates an emotional
state. The utterance must be made under stress of that emotion;
it must be "spontaneous and natural; impulsive and instinctive"
it should be immediate, or "so clearly connected (with the occasion)
that the declaration may be said to be the spontaneous explanation of
the real cause. Although in some jurisdictions there is insistence that
the declaration be "contemporaneous" with the act, or "while the act
is going on," the progressive view seems to be that the time interval,
beyond which a declaration would no longer be spontaneous, is in the
sound discretion of the trial court. Thus, in one case, after a wreck the
conductor came up to the engine, went back to the caboose, and then
walked a mile to a telephone, where he consumed twenty-five minutes
in calling headquarters. On his return to the train, while moving the
injured to the caboose, he remarked that a defective rail had caused
the disaster, and his statement was admitted in evidence as a spontaneous
declaration. In other cases declarations made from a few seconds
to fifteen minutes after the occurrence have been termed "mere narration
of past events," and therefore excluded.
Date of Authorship for this Version
Hutchins, Robert M., "Some Observations on the Law of Evidence" (1928). Faculty Scholarship Series. Paper 4753.