The Michigan Court of Appeals released an opinion reversing and remanding to the trial court with instructions in a case involving the parents' dispute about whether or not their children should continue to receive vaccinations. Kagen v Kagen, unpublished per curiam opinion of Court of Appeals, issued November 27, 2013 (Docket No.318459). These parents share joint legal custody. Interesting evidentiary holdings arose out of this opinion and also out of the subsequent appeal. Computer generated evidence that is admissible under the catch-all exception to the Rules of Evidence is the topic of this Blog post, Part I of a two-part series.
The COA held in Kagen I that information published by a governmental agency on the Internet is admissible where it meets four requirements.
In Kagen I, Mr. Kagen challenged the circuit court’s exclusion of his proffered evidence at the hearing. This evidence included statements and summaries of scientific studies regarding the safety, benefits, and risks of childhood inoculations. These statements were issued by the Center for Disease Control, National Institute of Health, Food and Drug Administration, and Michigan Department of Community Health. Finding that it fit within no exception to the hearsay rule, the circuit court excluded this evidence,
The COA stated that the circuit court correctly concluded that the proffered evidence was hearsay because it was offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted. citing MRE 801. in addition, the authors of the documents presented by Mr. Kagen were not present in the courtroom. The evidence was offered by Mr. Kagen to prove the truth of the matter asserted—that childhood vaccinations are beneficial and safe while deciding not to immunize your child is a dangerous decision that can result in disease and death. Thus, Mr. Kagen had to establish that the evidence fell within an exception to the hearsay rule. He relied upon MRE 803(24), the catch-all exception to the hearsay rule, which provides: