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The post below was published on Friday, September 17th, 2010 at 8:54 AM.

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Fourth District: Plain Ordinary Hearsay

This statute calls for the Division of Elections to conduct investigations where complaints are made “based upon personal information or information other than hearsay.” The appellants in this case apparently argued that the commission should not have investigated them because the complaint against them was based on a campaign treasurer’s report. The report was a statement made outside of a trial or hearing, and thus it constituted hearsay under the evidence code.

Does the elections statute limit investigations to where complaints are made based on information presented at trials or hearings? The Fourth District said no, holding that “hearsay” as used in the elections statute must have its plain and ordinary meaning, not the technical definition found in the evidence code. To hold otherwise would be absurd, the court decided.

The court explained that the plain and ordinary meaning of hearsay is “an item of idle or unverified information; gossip; rumor.” The campaign treasurer’s report did not qualify as that kind of hearsay.

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