Double hearsay is also known as hearsay within hearsay.
This is where we have a statement that contains another statement. Our double hearsay rule tells us that both the statement and the statement within the statement must be admissible, otherwise, only a portion of the evidence or possibly nothing gets admitted in court.
Here’s an example: Let’s say Sally works at a hospital. Her job is to take down information when patients come in.
Patty comes to the hospital. She is bleeding from her head.
Sally starts filling out her report:
Sally asks what happened.
Patty answers, “A flower pot fell on my head.”
Now Sally’s report looks like this:
But there are two possible hearsay problems.
First, is the report admissible? You need to look at the evidence rules because this is an out of court statement.
But even if the report is generally admissible, there is a hearsay problem within the report. Patty told Sally about the flower pot. Sally wrote it down. That is also an out of court statement that is contained within the report.
To admit the entire report in court, a judge will have to decide that the report *and* Patty’s statement to Sally are admissible.