Can a short story be admitted into evidence at a jury trial?

California, United States of America


The following excerpt is from People v. Ramirez, 10 Cal.5th 983, 274 Cal.Rptr.3d 309, 479 P.3d 797 (Cal. 2021):

Nor can we say that the story was cumulative of the live witnesses' testimony; it was through the story only that the jury heard directly from the victim himself, contrasted with hearing about him. Ultimately, defendant has provided no cogent ground to distinguish this story from other creative works that we found admissible in the past. (See People v. Mendez (2019) 7 Cal.5th 680, 713714, 249 Cal.Rptr.3d 49, 443 P.3d 896 [finding no error when the victim's mother read to the jury a poem her daughter had written "bemoan[ing] gang violence" before the daughter was killed in a gang-related shooting]; Verdugo , supra , 50 Cal.4th at p. 299, 113 Cal.Rptr.3d 803, 236 P.3d 1035 [finding no error in the trial court's decision to play for the jury songs that the victim had recorded and given to her father because the songs "simply illustrated the gift [a witness] had described in her testimony" and positing that "[h]ad [the victim] instead created a collage of photographs of Mexico for her father, taken by individuals unrelated to the family, the trial court would have likewise acted properly in allowing the jury to view it"].) Given the wide discretion afforded to trial courts regarding the admissibility of such evidence, we cannot say that the court here erred in allowing the short story to be admitted into evidence.

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