Hearsay is not admissible except as provided by these rules or by other rules adopted by the supreme court or by statute.
History: Sup. Ct. Order, 59 Wis. 2d R1, R248 (1973).
The rule of completeness requires that a statement, including otherwise inadmissible evidence including hearsay, be admitted in its entirety when necessary to explain an admissible portion of the statement. The rule is not restricted to writings or recorded statements. State v. Sharp, 180 Wis. 2d 640
, 511 N.W.2d 316
(Ct. App. 1993).
Prisoner disciplinary hearings are governed by administrative rules that permit consideration of hearsay evidence. State ex rel. Ortega v. McCaughtry, 221 Wis. 2d 376
, 585 N.W.2d 640
(Ct. App. 1998), 97-2972
As long as motive and opportunity have been shown and there is also some evidence to directly connect a 3rd person to the crime charged that is not remote in time, place, or circumstances, the evidence should be admissible. State v. Knapp, 2003 WI 121
, 265 Wis. 2d 278
, 666 N.W.2d 881
A mechanistic application of the law of hearsay should not defeat a defendant's right to obtain a fair trial through the presentation of reliable hearsay evidence. Evidence that qualifies for admission under an exception to the hearsay rule, and is critical to the defense implicates constitutional rights directly affecting the ascertainment of guilt and should be admitted under Chambers v. Mississippi
, 410 U.S. at 302. State v. Knapp, 2003 WI 121
, 265 Wis. 2d 278
, 666 N.W.2d 881
Computer-stored records, which memorialize the assertions of human declarants, are distinct from computer-generated records, which are the result of a process free of human intervention. The hearsay rule is designed to protect against the four testimonial infirmities of ambiguity, insincerity, faulty perception, and erroneous memory. A record created as a result of a computerized or mechanical process cannot lie, forget, or misunderstand and is not hearsay. Because such a report is not hearsay, it was subject only to the statutory authentication requirements, and was properly authenticated under s. 909.01 through the testimony of experienced operators. State v. Kandutsch, 2011 WI 78
, 336 Wis. 2d 478
, 799 N.W.2d 865
Hearsay exceptions; availability of declarant immaterial.
The following are not excluded by the hearsay rule, even though the declarant is available as a witness:
(1) Present sense impression.
A statement describing or explaining an event or condition made while the declarant was perceiving the event or condition, or immediately thereafter.
(2) Excited utterance.
A statement relating to a startling event or condition made while the declarant was under the stress of excitement caused by the event or condition.
(3) Then existing mental, emotional, or physical condition.
A statement of the declarant's then existing state of mind, emotion, sensation, or physical condition, such as intent, plan, motive, design, mental feeling, pain, and bodily health, but not including a statement of memory or belief to prove the fact remembered or believed unless it relates to the execution, revocation, identification, or terms of declarant's will.
(4) Statements for purposes of medical diagnosis or treatment.
Statements made for purposes of medical diagnosis or treatment and describing medical history, or past or present symptoms, pain or sensations, or the inception or general character of the cause or external source thereof insofar as reasonably pertinent to diagnosis or treatment.
(5) Recorded recollection.
A memorandum or record concerning a matter about which a witness once had knowledge but now has insufficient recollection to enable the witness to testify fully and accurately, shown to have been made when the matter was fresh in the witness's memory and to reflect that knowledge correctly.
(6) Records of regularly conducted activity.
A memorandum, report, record, or data compilation, in any form, of acts, events, conditions, opinions, or diagnoses, made at or near the time by, or from information transmitted by, a person with knowledge, all in the course of a regularly conducted activity, as shown by the testimony of the custodian or other qualified witness, or by certification that complies with s. 909.02 (12)
, or a statute permitting certification, unless the sources of information or other circumstances indicate lack of trustworthiness.
Authentication witness unnecessary.
A custodian or other qualified witness required by sub. (6)
is unnecessary if the party who intends to offer patient health care records into evidence at a trial or hearing does one of the following at least 40 days before the trial or hearing:
Serves upon all appearing parties an accurate, legible and complete duplicate of the patient health care records for a stated period certified by the record custodian.
Notifies all appearing parties that an accurate, legible and complete duplicate of the patient health care records for a stated period certified by the record custodian is available for inspection and copying during reasonable business hours at a specified location within the county in which the trial or hearing will be held.
Billing statements or invoices that are patient health care records are presumed to state the reasonable value of the health care services provided and the health care services provided are presumed to be reasonable and necessary to the care of the patient. Any party attempting to rebut the presumption of the reasonable value of the health care services provided may not present evidence of payments made or benefits conferred by collateral sources.
Patient health care records are subject to subpoena only if one of the following conditions exists:
The subpoena is authorized by an ex parte order of a judge for cause shown and upon terms.
If upon a properly authorized request of an attorney, the health care provider refuses, fails, or neglects to supply within 2 business days a legible certified duplicate of its records for the fees under s. 146.83 (1f)
, whichever is applicable.
(7) Absence of entry in records of regularly conducted activity.
Evidence that a matter is not included in the memoranda, reports, records or data compilations, in any form, of a regularly conducted activity, to prove the nonoccurrence or nonexistence of the matter, if the matter was of a kind of which a memorandum, report, record, or data compilation was regularly made and preserved, unless the sources of information or other circumstances indicate lack of trustworthiness.
(8) Public records and reports.
Records, reports, statements, or data compilations, in any form, of public offices or agencies, setting forth (a) the activities of the office or agency, or (b) matters observed pursuant to duty imposed by law, or (c) in civil cases and against the state in criminal cases, factual findings resulting from an investigation made pursuant to authority granted by law, unless the sources of information or other circumstances indicate lack of trustworthiness.
(9) Records of vital statistics.
Records or data compilations, in any form, of births, fetal deaths, deaths, or marriages, if the report thereof was made to a public office pursuant to requirements of law.
(10) Absence of public record or entry.
To prove the absence of a record, report, statement, or data compilation, in any form, or the nonoccurrence or nonexistence of a matter of which a record, report, statement, or data compilation, in any form, was regularly made and preserved by a public office or agency, evidence in the form of a certification in accordance with s. 909.02
, or testimony, that diligent search failed to disclose the record, report, statement, or data compilation, or entry.
(11) Records of religious organizations.
Statements of births, marriages, divorces, deaths, whether a child is marital or nonmarital, ancestry, relationship by blood, marriage or adoption, or other similar facts of personal or family history, contained in a regularly kept record of a religious organization.
(12) Marriage, baptismal, and similar certificates.
Statements of fact contained in a certificate that the maker performed a marriage or other ceremony or administered a sacrament, made by a member of the clergy, public official, or other person authorized by the rules or practices of a religious organization or by law to perform the act certified, and purporting to have been issued at the time of the act or within a reasonable time thereafter.
(13) Family records.
Statements of fact concerning personal or family history contained in family Bibles, genealogies, charts, engravings on rings, inscriptions on family portraits, engravings on urns, crypts, or tombstones, or the like.
(14) Records of documents affecting an interest in property.
The record of a document purporting to establish or affect an interest in property, as proof of the content of the original recorded document and its execution and delivery by each person by whom it purports to have been executed, if the record is a record of a public office and an applicable statute authorized the recording of documents of that kind in that office.
(15) Statements in documents affecting an interest in property.
A statement contained in a document purporting to establish or affect an interest in property if the matter stated was relevant to the purpose of the document, unless dealings with the property since the document was made have been inconsistent with the truth of the statement or the purport of the document.
(16) Statements in ancient documents.
Statements in a document in existence 20 years or more whose authenticity is established.
(17) Market reports, commercial publications.
Market quotations, tabulations, lists, directories, or other published compilations, generally used and relied upon by the public or by persons in particular occupations.
(18) Learned treatises.
A published treatise, periodical or pamphlet on a subject of history, science or art is admissible as tending to prove the truth of a matter stated therein if the judge takes judicial notice, or a witness expert in the subject testifies, that the writer of the statement in the treatise, periodical or pamphlet is recognized in the writer's profession or calling as an expert in the subject.
No published treatise, periodical or pamphlet constituting a reliable authority on a subject of history, science or art may be received in evidence, except for impeachment on cross-examination, unless the party proposing to offer such document in evidence serves notice in writing upon opposing counsel at least 40 days before trial. The notice shall fully describe the document which the party proposes to offer, giving the name of such document, the name of the author, the date of publication, the name of the publisher, and specifically designating the portion thereof to be offered. The offering party shall deliver with the notice a copy of the document or of the portion thereof to be offered.
No rebutting published treatise, periodical or pamphlet constituting a reliable authority on a subject of history, science or art shall be received in evidence unless the party proposing to offer the same shall, not later than 20 days after service of the notice described in par. (a)
, serve notice similar to that provided in par. (a)
upon counsel who has served the original notice. The party shall deliver with the notice a copy of the document or of the portion thereof to be offered.
The court may, for cause shown prior to or at the trial, relieve the party from the requirements of this section in order to prevent a manifest injustice.
(19) Reputation concerning personal or family history.
Reputation among members of a person's family by blood, adoption, or marriage, or among a person's associates, or in the community, concerning a person's birth, adoption, marriage, divorce, death, relationship by blood, adoption, or marriage, ancestry, whether the person is a marital or nonmarital child, or other similar fact of this personal or family history.
(20) Reputation concerning boundaries or general history.
Reputation in a community, arising before the controversy, as to boundaries of or customs affecting lands in the community, and reputation as to events of general history important to the community or state or nation in which located.
(21) Reputation as to character.
Reputation of a person's character among the person's associates or in the community.
(22) Judgment of previous conviction.
Evidence of a final judgment, entered after a trial or upon a plea of guilty, but not upon a plea of no contest, adjudging a person guilty of a felony as defined in ss. 939.60
and 939.62 (3) (b)
, to prove any fact essential to sustain the judgment, but not including, when offered by the state in a criminal prosecution for purposes other than impeachment, judgments against persons other than the accused. The pendency of an appeal may be shown but does not affect admissibility.
(23) Judgment as to personal, family or general history, or boundaries.
Judgments as proof of matters of personal, family or general history, or boundaries, essential to the judgment, if the same would be provable by evidence of reputation.
(24) Other exceptions.
A statement not specifically covered by any of the foregoing exceptions but having comparable circumstantial guarantees of trustworthiness.
Sup. Ct. Order, 59 Wis. 2d R250; Sup. Ct. Order, 67 Wis. 2d vii (1975); 1983 a. 447
; Sup. Ct. Order, 158 Wis. 20d xxv (1990); 1991 a. 32
; 1993 a. 105
; 1995 a. 27
s. 9126 (19)
; 1997 a. 67
; 1999 a. 32
; 2001 a. 74
; Sup. Ct. Order No. 04-09
, 2005 WI 148, 283 Wis. 2d xv; 2007 a. 20
s. 9121 (6) (a)
; 2009 a. 28
; 2011 a. 32
; 2013 a. 166
Effective date note
Judicial Council Note, 1990: Sub. (6m) is repealed and recreated to extend the self-authentication provision to other health care providers in addition to hospitals. That such records may be authenticated without the testimony of their custodian does not obviate other proper objections to their admissibility. The revision changes the basic self-authentication procedure for all health care provider records (including hospitals) by requiring the records to be served on all parties or made reasonably available to them at least 40 days before the trial or hearing. The additional 30 days facilitates responsive discovery, while elimination of the filing requirement reduces courthouse records management impacts. [Re Order eff. 1-1-91]
Comment, October 2005:
This amendment conforms Wisconsin's rule to the 2000 amendment of Rule 803 (6) of the Federal Rule of Evidence. The Judicial Council advised the court of its concern and desire that the proposed amendment to Wis. Stat. § 908.03 (6) not be viewed to change the law as expressed in State v. Williams, 2002 WI 58
, 253 Wis. 2d 99
, 644 N.W.2d 919
, regarding records of an investigation conducted for the particular purpose of litigation. [Re Sup. Ct. Order No. 04-09
The res gestae
exception is given a broader view when assertions of a young child are involved and will allow admitting statements by a child victim of a sexual assault to a parent two days later. Bertrang v. State, 50 Wis. 2d 702
, 184 N.W.2d 867
Hearsay in a juvenile court worker's report was not admissible under sub. (6) or (8) at a delinquency hearing. Rusecki v. State, 56 Wis. 2d 299
, 201 N.W.2d 832
A medical record containing a diagnosis or opinion is admissible, but may be excluded if the entry requires explanation or a detailed statement of judgmental factors. Noland v. Mutual of Omaha Insurance Co., 57 Wis. 2d 633
, 205 N.W.2d 388
The statement of a punch press operator that the press had repeated three times, made five minutes after the malfunction causing his injury, was admissible under the excited utterance exception to the hearsay rule. Nelson v. L.&J. Press Corp., 65 Wis. 2d 770
, 223 N.W.2d 607
Under the res gestae
exception to the hearsay rule, the “excited utterance" exception under sub. (2), testimony by the victim's former husband that his daughter called him at 5 a.m. the morning after a murder and told him, “daddy, daddy, Wilbur killed mommy," was admissible. State v. Davis, 66 Wis. 2d 636
, 225 N.W.2d 505
The official minutes of a highway committee were admissible under sub. (6) as records of a regularly conducted activity. State v. Nowakowski, 67 Wis. 2d 545
, 227 N.W.2d 697
A public document, filed under oath and notarized by the defendant, was one having “circumstantial guarantees of trustworthiness" under sub. (24). State v. Nowakowski, 67 Wis. 2d 545
, 227 N.W.2d 697
Statements made by a five-year-old child to his mother one day after an alleged sexual assault by the defendant were admissible under the excited utterance exception to the hearsay rule, since a more liberal interpretation is provided for that exception in the case of a young child alleged to have been the victim of a sexual assault. State ex rel. Harris v. Schmidt, 69 Wis. 2d 668
, 230 N.W.2d 890
Probation files and records are public records and admissible at a probation revocation hearing. State ex rel. Prellwitz v. Schmidt, 73 Wis. 2d 35
, 242 N.W.2d 227
A statement made by a victim within minutes after a stabbing that the defendant “did this to me" was admissible under sub. (2). La Barge v. State, 74 Wis. 2d 327
, 246 N.W.2d 794
Personal observation of a startling event is not required under sub. (2). State v. Lenarchick, 74 Wis. 2d 425
, 247 N.W.2d 80
Admission of hospital records did not deprive the defendant of the right to confrontation. State v. Olson, 75 Wis. 2d 575
, 250 N.W.2d 12
Observations made by a prior trial judge in a decision approving the jury's award of damages were properly excluded as hearsay in a later trial. Johnson v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co., 93 Wis. 2d 633
, 287 N.W.2d 729
Medical records as explained to the jury by a medical student were sufficient to support a conviction; the right to confrontation was not denied. Hagenkord v. State, 100 Wis. 2d 452
, 302 N.W.2d 421
A chiropractor could testify as to a patient's self-serving statements when those statements were used to form his medical opinion under sub. (4). Klingman v. Kruschke, 115 Wis. 2d 124
, 339 N.W.2d 603
(Ct. App. 1983).
An interrogator's account of a child witness's out-of-court statements made four days after a murder, when notes of the conversation were available although not introduced, was admissible under sub. (24). State v. Jenkins, 168 Wis. 2d 175
, 483 N.W.2d 262
For a statement to be an excited utterance there must be a “startling event or condition" and the declarant must have made the statement “while under the stress of excitement caused by the event or condition." State v. Boshcka, 173 Wis. 2d 387
reprinted at 178 Wis. 2d 628
, 496 N.W.2d 627
(Ct. App. 1992).
When proffered hearsay has sufficient guarantees of reliability to come within a firmly rooted exception, the confrontation clause is satisfied. State v. Patino, 177 Wis. 2d 348
, 502 N.W.2d 601
(Ct. App. 1993).
In applying the excited utterance exception in child sexual assault cases, a court must consider factors including the child's age and the contemporaneousness and spontaneity of the assertions in relation to the alleged assault. In applying the sub. (24) residual exception in such a case, the court must consider the attributes of the child, the person to whom the statement was made, the circumstances under which the statement was made, the content of the statement, and corroborating evidence. State v. Gerald L.C., 194 Wis. 2d 549
, 535 N.W.2d 777
(Ct. App. 1995).
The sub. (2) excited utterance and the sub. (24) residual exceptions are discussed in relation to child sexual assault cases. State v. Huntington, 216 Wis. 2d 671
, 575 N.W.2d 268
The hearsay exception for medical diagnosis or treatment under sub. (4) does not apply to statements made to counselors or social workers. State v. Huntington, 216 Wis. 2d 671
, 575 N.W.2d 268
The requirement in sub. (18) that the writer of a statement in a treatise be recognized as an expert is not met by finding that the periodical containing the article was authoritative and reliable. Broadhead v. State Farm Mutual Insurance Co., 217 Wis. 2d 231
, 579 N.W.2d 761
(Ct. App. 1998), 97-0904
The description of the effects of alcohol on a person contained in the Wisconsin Motorists Handbook produced by the Department of Transportation was admissible under sub. (8). Sullivan v. Waukesha County, 218 Wis. 2d 458
, 578 N.W.2d 596
Evidence of 911 calls, including tapes and transcripts of the calls, is not inadmissible hearsay. Admission does not violate the right to confront witnesses. State v. Ballos, 230 Wis. 2d 495
, 602 N.W.2d 117
(Ct. App. 1999), 98-1905
Sub. (3) allows admission of a declarant's statement of his or her feelings to prove only how the declarant feels and not to admit a declarant's statements of the cause of those feelings to prove certain events occurred. State v. Kutz, 2003 WI App 205
, 267 Wis. 2d 531
, 671 N.W.2d 660
Unavailability for confrontation purposes requires both that the hearsay declarant not appear at the trial and, critically, that the state make a good-faith effort to produce that declarant at trial. If there is a remote possibility that affirmative measures might produce the declarant, the obligation of good faith may demand their effectuation. The lengths to which the prosecution must go to produce a witness is a question of reasonableness. State v. King, 2005 WI App 224
, 287 Wis. 2d 756
, 706 N.W.2d 181
To be qualified to testify to the requirements of sub. (6), the witness must have personal knowledge of how the records were made so that the witness is qualified to testify that they were made “at or near the time [of the event] by, or from information transmitted by, a person with knowledge" and “in the course of a regularly conducted activity." Palisades Collection LLC v. Kalal, 2010 WI App 38
, 324 Wis. 2d 180
, 781 N.W.2d 503
. See also Central Prairie Financial LLC v. Yang, 2013 WI App 82
, 348 Wis. 2d 583
, 833 N.W.2d 866
requires a showing that the witness has personal knowledge of how the documents in question were created, not that the witness describe the procedures used to create those documents or the precise location of their creation. “Personal knowledge," for purposes of sub. (6), does not require that the witness was present for a record's preparation or creation. Bank of America NA v. Neis, 2013 WI App 89
, 349 Wis. 2d 461
, 835 N.W.2d 527
Contracts, including promissory notes, are not hearsay when offered only for their legal effect, not to prove the truth of the matter asserted. Admissibility of these documents does not depend on sub. (6). Bank of America NA v. Neis, 2013 WI App 89
, 349 Wis. 2d 461
, 835 N.W.2d 527
When the elements of the business records exception are otherwise met, third-party records can fall within the business records exception if the party offering the records for admission into evidence establishes that the third-party's records are integrated into that party's business records and that that party relies upon those records. The records at issue in this case were admissible. While the data that a loan servicer relied upon in creating the records came from a prior servicer, the loan servicer integrated the prior servicer's records into its own records and there was extensive testimony as to that process and as to how the loan servicer created its own records in the course of its regularly conducted activity. Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. v. Olson, 2016 WI App 14
, 366 Wis. 2d 720
, 875 N.W.2d 649
Medical bills that were not properly authenticated under sub. (6m) (b) were not inadmissible hearsay. The circuit court properly concluded as to their authenticity that the injured plaintiff could testify regarding whether the bills related to his injury. The presumptions of sub. (6m) (bm) applied in this case, when the bills introduced were “patient health care records” and were properly received into evidence, even if the party introducing the bills did not satisfy the requirements of sub. (6m) (b). Gaethke v. Pozder, 2017 WI App 38
, 376 Wis. 2d 448
, 899 N.W.2d 381
Portions of investigatory reports containing opinions or conclusions are admissible under the sub. (8) exception. Beech Aircraft Corp. v. Rainey, 488 U.S. 153
, 102 L. Ed. 2d 445
Convictions through hearsay in child sexual abuse cases. Tuerkheimer. 72 MLR 47 (1988).
Expanding Wisconsin's Approach to the Business Records Exception. Whitehead. 98 MLR 1505 (2015).
Medical records discovery in Wisconsin personal injury litigation. 1974 WLR 524.
Children's Out-of-Court Statements. Anderson. WBB Oct. 1974.
Evidence review: Past recollection refreshed v. past recollection recorded. Fine. WBB Mar. 1984.
Evidence review: Business records and government reports: Hearsay Trojan horses? Fine. WBB Apr. 1984.