The Law Office of Frederick R. Franke, Jr. LLC
OPENING THE DOOR TO EVIDENCE
The Dead Man’s Statute is a carryover from the ancient prohibition against persons with an interest in a transaction from being witnesses in litigation over that transaction. In the case with the Dead Man’s Statute, one party to the transaction is silenced by death so (goes the argument) the other party ought to also be silenced in order to level the playing field.
Dead Man Statutes, in general, are not held in high regard. In 1938, for example, the American Bar Association pushed for repeal of these statutes to permit the tryor of fact to decide how much credence to give to an interested witness. Indeed, over 30 states have repealed their Dead Man Statutes, and other states have limited its application.
Nevertheless, Maryland retains its statute. Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Proc. § 9-116. It is narrowly construed and subject to many exceptions. One exception, contained in the statute itself, is that the Dead Man’s Statute does not apply if the otherwise–excluded witness is “called to testify by the opposite party” or if such evidence is already in the proceeding. [Read more…]