The hearsay rule is a non constitutional rule of evidence which obtains in one form or another in every jurisdiction in the country. The rule provides that in the absence of explicit exceptions to the contrary, hearsay evidence of a matter in dispute is inadmissible as proof of the matter. Although jurisdictions define "hearsay" in different ways, the various definitions reflect a common principle: evidence that derives its relevance in a case from the belief of a person who is not present in court—and thus not under oath and not subject to cross-examination regarding his credibility—is of questionable probative value.
Publication Information & Recommended Citation
Westen, Peter K. "Hearsay Rule." In vol. 2 of Encyclopedia of the American Constitution, edited by Leonard W. Levy, Kenneth L. Karst, and Dennis J. Mahoney, 910. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1986.