MBE Question of the Day – Answer

(B) is correct.

Issue: Whether, in an action where an issue is whether or not a person committed suicide, evidence
of that person’s state of mind as expressed in an out-of-court statement by that person is admissible.

Rule: Hearsay is in-court testimony of an out-of-court statement which is offered in evidence to
prove the truth of the matter asserted in the statement. Hearsay is inadmissible unless it falls into
an exemption or exception to the hearsay rule.
The then-existing mental, emotional, or physical condition exception to the rule against hearsay
allows the admission of a statement of the declarant’s then-existing state of mind (such as motive or
intent) or emotional, sensory, or physical condition (such as a mental feeling, pain, or their bodily
health), but does not allow the admission of a statement of memory or belief to prove the fact
remembered or believed unless it relates to the validity or terms of the declarant’s will.
Whenever a statement made out of court is being offered into evidence during trial, you should
immediately think of hearsay.

Analysis: Here, the woman’s statement is hearsay – it is an out-of-court statement made by the
woman – the declarant – who is now unavailable. The statement is being offered to show that
the woman was exhausted and wiped out (the truth of the matter asserted in the statement): this
provides a motive for suicide. Statements of intent to commit suicide have been admitted in
insurance cases to show that the insured took his or her own life.

(B) is correct because the woman’s statement falls under the state of mind exception under FRE

(A) is incorrect because the statement was not adverse to the woman’s interest at the time it
was made. To fall under this exception, the statement must be adverse to the declarant’s
pecuniary interests.

(C) is incorrect because it falls under the broad standard for relevancy. The statement provides
evidence as to the woman’s state of mind and possible motive for committing suicide.

(D) is incorrect because the statement is covered under the state of mind hearsay exception.