Federal Rules of Evidence – Rule 1002 (through March 1, 2020)
Generally, original writings, recordings, and photographs are required to prove their content.
An original writing, recording, or photograph is required in order to prove its content unless these rules or a federal statute provides otherwise.
Selected Committee Notes
The rule is the familiar one requiring production of the original of a document to prove its contents, expanded to include writings, recordings, and photographs, as defined in Rule 1001(1) and (2), supra.
Application of the rule requires a resolution of the question whether contents are sought to be proved. Thus an event may be proved by nondocumentary evidence, even though a written record of it was made. If, however, the event is sought to be proved by the written record, the rule applies. For example, payment may be proved without producing the written receipt which was given. Earnings may be proved without producing books of account in which they are entered. McCormick §198; 4 Wigmore §1245. Nor does the rule apply to testimony that books or records have been examined and found not to contain any reference to a designated matter.
The assumption should not be made that the rule will come into operation on every occasion when use is made of a photograph in evidence. On the contrary, the rule will seldom apply to ordinary photographs. In most instances a party wishes to introduce the item and the question raised is the propriety of receiving it in evidence. Cases in which an offer is made of the testimony of a witness as to what he saw in a photograph or motion picture, without producing the same, are most unusual. The usual course is for a witness on the stand to identify the photograph or motion picture as a correct representation of events which he saw or of a scene with which he is familiar. In fact he adopts the picture as his testimony, or, in common parlance, uses the picture to illustrate his testimony. Under these circumstances, no effort is made to prove the contents of the picture, and the rule is inapplicable. Paradis, The Celluloid Witness, 37 U.Colo.L. Rev. 235, 249–251 (1965).
On occasion, however, situations arise in which contents are sought to be proved. Copyright, defamation, and invasion of privacy by photograph or motion picture falls in this category. Similarly as to situations in which the picture is offered as having independent probative value, e.g. automatic photograph of bank robber. See People v. Doggett, 83 Cal.App.2d 405, 188 P.2d 792 (1948) photograph of defendants engaged in indecent act; Mouser and Philbin, Photographic Evidence—Is There a Recognized Basis for Admissibility? 8 Hastings L.J. 310 (1957). The most commonly encountered of this latter group is of course, the X-ray, with substantial authority calling for production of the original. Daniels v. Iowa City, 191 Iowa 811, 183 N.W. 415 (1921); Cellamare v. Third Acc. Transit Corp., 273 App.Div. 260, 77 N.Y.S.2d 91 (1948); Patrick & Tilman v. Matkin, 154 Okl. 232, 7 P.2d 414 (1932); Mendoza v. Rivera, 78 P.R.R. 569 (1955)
It should be noted, however, that Rule 703, supra, allows an expert to give an opinion based on matters not in evidence, and the present rule must be read as being limited accordingly in its application. Hospital records which may be admitted as business records under Rule 803(6) commonly contain reports interpreting X-rays by the staff radiologist, who qualifies as an expert, and these reports need not be excluded from the records by the instant rule.
The reference to Acts of Congress is made in view of such statutory provisions as 26 U.S.C. §7513, photographic reproductions of tax returns and documents, made by authority of the Secretary of the Treasury, treated as originals, and 44 U.S.C. §399(a), photographic copies in National Archives treated as originals.
Key Rules (MBE/MEE)
- FRE 103 – Evidence Rulings
- FRE 105 – Limiting How Evidence may be Used
- FRE 106 – Completeness Rule
- FRE 201 – Judicial Notice
- FRE 301 – Presumptions
- FRE 401 – Relevance
- FRE 402 – Irrelevant = Inadmissible
- FRE 403 – Excluding the Prejudicial, Confusing, etc.
- FRE 404 – Character Evidence
- FRE 405 – Proving Character
- FRE 406 – Habit, Routine
- FRE 407 – Subsequent Remedial Measures
- FRE 408 – Compromise Negotiations
- FRE 409 – Offers to Pay Expenses
- FRE 410 – Pleas, Related Statements
- FRE 411 – Liability Insurance
- FRE 412 – Victim’s Sexual Predisposition
- FRE 413, 414, 415 – Other Sex-Related Rules
- FRE 502 – Attorney-Client Privilege, Work-Product Doctrine
- FRE 601 – Witness Competency
- FRE 602 – Personal Knowledge
- FRE 605 – Judge as Witness
- FRE 606 – Juror as Witness
- FRE 607 – Impeachment
- FRE 608 – Honest, Dishonest Character
- FRE 609 – Evidence of Criminal Conviction
- FRE 610 – Religious Beliefs
- FRE 611 – Mode, Order of Evidence
- FRE 612 – Recollection Refreshed
- FRE 613 – Prior Statements
- FRE 614 – Court Witness Examination
- FRE 615 – Excluding Witnesses
- FRE 701 – Non-Expert Opinion
- FRE 702 – Expert Opinion
- FRE 703 – Bases of Expert Opinion
- FRE 704 – Ultimate Issue
- FRE 705 – Disclosing Underlying Data
- FRE 801 – Hearsay Defined
- FRE 802 – Rule Against Hearsay
- FRE 803 – Strong Hearsay Exceptions
- FRE 804 – Weak Hearsay Exceptions
- FRE 805 – Double Hearsay
- FRE 806 – Impeaching Hearsay Declarants
- FRE 807 – Residual Hearsay Exception
- FRE 901 – Authentication, Identification
- FRE 902 – Self-Authenticating Evidence
- FRE 1001 – Original Defined
- FRE 1002 – Original Sometimes Required
- FRE 1003 – When Copies Generally Admissible
- FRE 1004 – Other Times Admissible
- FRE 1005 – Public Record Copies Often Admissible
- FRE 1006 – Summaries
- FRE 1007 – Acknowledged Content
- FRE 1008 – Functions of Court, Jury
- FRE 1101 – Rules’ Applicability