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Rule 601. General Rules of Competency


(a)      Every person iscompetent 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 notwithstandingthe hearsay rule.


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



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




Subdivision (a) of the rule generallyembodies, in simpler terms, the substance of Rules 7 and 17, Utah Rules ofEvidence (1971). The effect will be to displace the decisions of the UtahSupreme Court applying Mansfield's Rule to a contest as to the legitimacy ofchildren. 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 ruleby adding two paragraphs to treat the problem of litigation involving deceasedpersons. The rule supersedes the Utah "Dead Man" statute, Utah CodeAnnotated, § 78-24-2 (1953), which is no longer operable. However, subparagraph(b) allows a decedent's hearsay statements to be received as an admissionagainst the plaintiff in a wrongful death action. Subparagraph (c) authorizesthe admission of a relevant hearsay statement of a deceased when offered in a suitagainst the estate of the deceased declarant. Thesetwo paragraphs have been taken from Sections 1227 and 1261 of the CaliforniaEvidence Code. They have been placed in Rule 601 because they compensate forthe "Dead Man" statute which related to competency and because toplace the provisions in the hearsay section of the rules would disturb thecorrelation between the Utah rules format and the Federal rules. These twosubparagraphs should also be read in connection with the other hearsayexceptions in Article VIII, in that statements not within Rule 601 mayotherwise be admissible under other hearsay exceptions.