Saturday, July 05, 2008

Why hearsay is wrong

A reader writes:
If the parenting school believed that I had a court order to attend its classes, then what is wrong with the school filing a report with the court?
There are several things wrong with it. To understand them, you need to understand the rules of evidence that the court uses.

There is no law against lying outside of court. There is a law against lying in sworn testimony. So the court requires sworn testimony, and ignores out of court statements as just hearsay.

The court sometimes accepts a written statement, but only if the following conditions are met:
The author restricts himself to first-hand knowledge. He cannot just repeat the hearsay of others.

The author writes under oath, and under penalty of perjury. There has to be some way of holding him accountable for what he says.

The author make himself available for cross-examination. People have rights to face their accusers in court, and to flesh out exactly what the allegations are.
Now look at the email from Jodi Harvey below. I never met her, and she has no first-hand knowledge of what she is saying. She could be lying to promote her business, and there would be nothing illegal about it. She is apparently relying on an unidentified "staff member" who interviewed me. If it turned out to be all a big lie, she would just say that it was a misunderstanding. It is worse than hearsay; it is hearsay about hearsay, and a real court would never accept it.

A real school sends its report cards to its students. Others can only see the report card if the student authorizes it. If the student is under age, then the parents can also see the report card. That's all. A school has no business sending secret reports without permission.

If the school thought that I was under court order to attend, and it was denying me admission, then it should have given me and me alone a rejection letter. If I wanted to explain the matter to the court, then I could submit my explanation along with the letter. There is no need or utility in having the school send a letter to the court.

What Ms. Harvey is really doing, of course, is to try to secure more court-ordered paying customers. She personally was making a lot of money from referrals under the direction of Ms. Berrenge, and wanted to keep that money flow coming. Ms. Harvey is essentially saying, "We didn't like George because he asked too many questions. But please keep ordering others to pay us money!"

Ms. Harvey is running a crooked business. She makes money because of a slimy and dishonest relationship with the local family court. Stay away from her, if you can.

Bad as she is, I think that what Ms. Berrenge did was worse. Ms. Berrenge was in a position of responsibility with the court, and she abused that role in order to secretly put malicious evidence against me in the court file. She is no longer working for the court, and I'd like to say that the court is better off without her, but she has been replaced by someone worse. I'll write more about her replacement later.

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