Simple question: Is hearsay testimony allowed in Mental hearings?
See � 547.031 (e), Health & Safety Code - unless otherwise provided, the Rules of Evidence apply.
Is it the kind of mental health history on which an expert, such as the psychiatrist, normally relies? Need more facts.
You might know I would get involved in this:
The answer is "Generally. 'Yes'"
For example: See Fields v. State of Texas, 690 S.W.2d 37 (Tex. App. - Dallas, 1985) wherein the issue is discussed in detail including a specific ruling that medical certificates are hearsay and not official records but may be admitted as hearsay exceptions. See also Moore v. State, 670 SW2d 783 (Tex. App.-Fort Worth, 1984). Note that the statute requires medical certificates as a predicate for a hearing.
But experts always testify about hearsay matters insofar as they lack personal knowledge of the issues at hand. Note Rule 703, "The facts or data in the particular case upon which an expert bases an opinion or inference may be those perceived by, reviewed by, or made known to the expert at or before the hearing. If of a type reasonably relied upon by experts in the particular field in forming opinions or inferences upon the subject, the facts or data need not be admissible in evidence." Rule 803 would consider such expert testimony hearsay - but admissible as an exception.
Finally recall that both 574.034 and 574.035 require a recent overt act - to which often the lay witness, having personal knowledge, testifies. In 574.035 - because it refers to extended commitments - the statute requires that live testimony must be heard, the court may not make a decision on the medical certificates alone, i.e. merely on the basis of otherwise-admissible hearsay.
So, "sure" experts provide hearsay testimony, that's what we often do, especially in mental health matters. Opinion testimony is by definition not based on personal knowledge and examinations, let us say, of proposed patients, would require determinations based upon what the patient reports, i.e. hearsay which in and of itself is not admissible, but to the extent that it forms the basis of the expert's opinion, is admissible.
[This message was edited by Floyd L. Jennings on 06-08-05 at .]
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