Brooks on Dying Declarations @Princeton

Peter Brooks, Center for Human Values, Princeton University, is publishing Dying Declarations in Fictional Discourse and the Law (Hans J. Lind, ed., New York and London: Routledge, Forthcoming). Here is the abstract. In Chavez v. Martinez, where a police officer interrogated a badly wounded—blinded and partially paralyzed—suspect undergoing treatment in the emergency room, Justice Kennedy evoked the ancient doctrine of “dying declarations,” which provides an exception to the exclusion of hearsay evidence in the case of words spoken where “the expectation of almost immediate death will remove all temptation to falsehood.” In a context once marked by the fear of eternal damnation, the brink of death was considered to produce the truth. One can find in the Ordinary of Newgate’s Accounts—containing confessions from those about to be hung at Tyburn—material that may both confirm and throw some doubt on the unconstrained truth of…

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