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University of Colorado Law School

2005

Evidence

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The Hillmon Case, The Macguffin, And The Supreme Court, Marianne Wesson Jan 2005

The Hillmon Case, The Macguffin, And The Supreme Court, Marianne Wesson

Articles

The case of Mutual Life Insurance Company v. Hillmon is one of the most influential decisions in the law of evidence. Decided by the Supreme Court in 1892, it invented an exception to the hearsay rule for statements encompassing the intentions of the declarant. But this exception seems not to rest on any plausible theory of the categorical reliability of such statements. This article suggests that the case turned instead on the Court's understanding of the facts of the underlying dispute about the identity of a corpse. The author's investigations into newspaper archives and the original case documents ...