Hassan v. Williams

In Hassan v. Williams, the New Jersey Appellate Division issued a must-read opinion, which touched on several evidentiary issues. The Court reviewed a defense-favorable verdict after a rear-end crash involving two commercial trucks. At the trial, the plaintiff sought to introduce testimony from the defendant’s deposition in which he said that rear-ending someone “automatically makes you wrong.” The plaintiff also sought to introduce a letter in which the defendant’s employer stated that the accident was “preventable” and that his “recklessness” caused the crash. The trial court excluded the evidence — and some similar evidence — because it went to the “ultimate issue”. The Court reversed, noting that Rule 704 abolished the “ultimate issue” rule so long as the evidence sought to be introduced is “otherwise admissible”. The Court disagreed with the trial court about whether the evidence was hearsay and ruled the evidence was admissible under¬† Rule 803(b) as statements made by a party opponent.

HASSAN