Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Adkins v. Brett case brief

Adkins v. Brett case brief summary
193 P. 251 (Cal. 1920)

Defendant appealed from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County (California) that was entered in favor of the plaintiff in an alienation of affection action.

Plaintiff brought an alienation of affection suit against defendant after plaintiff's wife asked for a separation because of her feelings for defendant. At trial, evidence of plaintiff and his wife's conversations were admitted to show her mental state. Judgment was entered for plaintiff, and defendant appealed. The court reversed and ordered a new trial.

The court held that the conversations, offered as proof of the wife's mental state, were admissible as an exception to the hearsay rule.


  • The fact that the content of the conversations would be hearsay if offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted did not render them inadmissible. 
  • However, because the conversations could be construed by the jury in this way, defendant was entitled to protection in the form of jury instructions. 
  • Here, the judge failed to properly instruct the jury; therefore, the judgment was reversed.

Judgment reversed and a new trial ordered on the grounds that the trial judge failed to properly instruct the jury to protect defendant against statements admitted to prove wife's mental state from being used to prove the truth of the matter asserted.

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