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Wright v. Doe d. Tatham

    Brief Fact Summary. A cousin, Sandford Tatham, filed suit against the estate of John Marsden seeking to set aside the will. George Wright was a beneficiary of the will and was named as a defendant. Tatham sought to prove that Marsden was not competent to create his will.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Third party statement made out of court which imply or an opinion or statement on the matter at issue is inadmissible hearsay.

    Facts. John Marsden, decedent, through his will left real property to George Wright. Sandford Tatham, a cousin of Marsden, filed suit to set aside the will. Tatham, Plaintiff, filed suit arguing that Marsden was not competent and was child-like in his cognitive abilities. On the other hand the defendant, Wright, argued that Marsden was sufficiently competent to manage his affairs and to make the will. As proof, Defendant offered three letters as evidence. The letters were written to Marsden by individuals who preceded him in death.

    Issue. Should the letters be admitted to prove he was competent to make the will?

    Held. Justice Parke issued the opinion for the Court of Exchequer Chamber in holding that the letters are inadmissible hearsay.

    Discussion. J. Parke found that the letters were hearsay because they were offered to imply that Marsden was sound.


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