Adkins and his wife were having marital troubles.
Eventually, Adkin's wife left him for Brett.
Adkins sued Brett for damages for the 'alienation' of his
Apparently, back in the 1920s it was a tort to seduce
In Court, both Brett and Adkins' wife denied that they had
Adkins attempted to introduce the testimony of Tucker, who
claimed that Brett told him that he had had 'criminal intercourse' with
Adkins' wife the day after the supposed incident.
Brett objected on the grounds that the out-of-court
statement was hearsay.
Adkins argued that under the common-law, statements made
in the present state of mind are admissible as an exception to hearsay.
In addition, Adkins testified that his wife had told him
that she was sweet on Brett, and that he had given her flowers and taken
her for a ride in his fancy automobile.
Brett objected on the same grounds.
The Trial Judge allowed the testimony to come into
The Trial Court found for Adkins. Brett appealed.
The California Supreme Court reversed.
The California Supreme Court looked to the common law and
found that there is an exception to hearsay for statements that
represent "the intention, feelings or other mental state of a
certain person at a particular time, including his bodily feelings,"
because such a statement is "indicative of his then mental
Aka the present state of mind exception.
However, the Court found that Adkins' wife's statements
went beyond her feelings, and contained factual matters (such as the info
about the flowers and the automobile).
The facts of the wife's statements are not admissible
under the present state of mind exception, and were very
prejudicial towards Brett.
Therefore, a jury instruction should have been issued
that the wife's statements were only admissible to show the
wife's feelings at the time she made the statements, not to prove
that Brett had actually bought her flowers and taken her for a ride in
his horseless carriage.
Since such a jury instruction was not issued, the jury
was tainted and the verdict should be thrown out.
This case was decided under the common law. Today, it
would be governed by FRE 803(3). In addition, FRE 105
covers the limiting instructions that need to be made to the jury when
this sort of statement is admitted.