Is Impeachment the Only Method of Attacking the Credibility of Hearsay ?
Is Impeachment the Only Method of Attacking the Credibility of a Hearsay Declarant and Is Medical Treatment An Exception to the Hearsay Rule ?
In Smith v. State, 270 Ga. 240, 244 (5) (510 S.E.2d 1) (1998) the Supreme Court of Georgia stated that impeachment of hearsay admitted through the excited utterance and necessity exceptions ordinarily should be permitted.
The medical diagnosis or treatment exception to the hearsay rule is "based upon the inherent trustworthiness of medical information given by a patient to a medical provider, in view of the patient's strong motivation to be truthful during diagnosis and treatment." Barone v. Law, 242 Ga. App. 102, 104 (1) (527 S.E.2d 898) (2000) .
Because the statement is hearsay, the credibility of the declarant cannot be attacked on cross-examination. "Impeachment, therefore, is the only method by which a party can attack the credibility of the hearsay declarant and, thus, the accuracy of the statement." Brantley v. State, 177 Ga. App. 13, 16-17 (3) (338 S.E.2d 694) (1985).
The Court hold that a party must be given the opportunity to impeach the credibility of a declarant whose statement is admitted under the medical diagnosis or treatment exception to the hearsay rule.
As noted in Brantley and Smith, our ruling is consistent with Federal Rule of Evidence 806, which allows the impeachment of a hearsay declarant with any evidence that would be admissible for impeachment purposes if the declarant had testified as a witness. 177 Ga. App. at 17; Smith, supra.