Rule 601. General Rules of Competency

 

(a)      Every person is competent to be a witness unless these rules provide otherwise.

 

(b)      In an action for the declarant’s wrongful death, a statement of the declarant is admissible against the plaintiff notwithstanding the hearsay rule.

 

(c)      In an action against the declarant’s estate, the declarant’s statement is admissible notwithstanding the hearsay rule if it was made at a time when the matter had been recently perceived by the declarant and while the declarant’s recollection was clear unless it was made under circumstances indicating its lack of trustworthiness.

 

 

2011 Advisory Committee Note. – The language of this rule has been amended as part of the restyling of the Evidence Rules to make them more easily understood and to make style and terminology consistent throughout the rules. These changes are intended to be stylistic only. There is no intent to change any result in any ruling on evidence admissibility.

 

ADVISORY COMMITTEE NOTE

 

Subdivision (a) of the rule generally embodies, in simpler terms, the substance of Rules 7 and 17, Utah Rules of Evidence (1971). The effect will be to displace the decisions of the Utah Supreme Court applying Mansfield's Rule to a contest as to the legitimacy of children. Cf. Lopes v. Lopes, 30 Utah 2d 393, 518 P.2d 687 (1974); Miller v. Marticorena, 531 P.2d 487 (1975).

 

Rule 601 departs from the federal rule by adding two paragraphs to treat the problem of litigation involving deceased persons. The rule supersedes the Utah "Dead Man" statute, Utah Code Annotated, § 78-24-2 (1953), which is no longer operable. However, subparagraph (b) allows a decedent's hearsay statements to be received as an admission against the plaintiff in a wrongful death action. Subparagraph (c) authorizes the admission of a relevant hearsay statement of a deceased when offered in a suit against the estate of the deceased declarant. These two paragraphs have been taken from Sections 1227 and 1261 of the California Evidence Code. They have been placed in Rule 601 because they compensate for the "Dead Man" statute which related to competency and because to place the provisions in the hearsay section of the rules would disturb the correlation between the Utah rules format and the Federal rules. These two subparagraphs should also be read in connection with the other hearsay exceptions in Article VIII, in that statements not within Rule 601 may otherwise be admissible under other hearsay exceptions.