Title 9: Authentication, Identification and Admission of Exhibits
ER 901: REQUIREMENT OF AUTHENTICATION OR IDENTIFICATION
(a) General Provision. The requirement of authentication or identification as a condition precedent to admissibility is satisfied by evidence sufficient to support a finding that the matter in question is what its proponent claims.
(b) Illustrations. By way of illustration only, and not by way of limitation, the following are examples of authentication or identification conforming with the requirements of this rule:
(1) Testimony of Witness With Knowledge. Testimony that a matter is what it is claimed to be.
(2) Nonexpert Opinion on Handwriting. Nonexpert opinion as to the genuineness of handwriting, based upon familiarity not acquired for purposes of the litigation.
(3) Comparison by Court or Expert Witness. Comparison by the court or by expert witnesses with specimens which have been authenticated.
(4) Distinctive Characteristics and the Like. Appearance, contents, substance, internal patterns, or other distinctive characteristics, taken in conjunction with circumstances.
(5) Voice Identification. Identification of a voice, whether heard firsthand or through mechanical or electronic transmission or recording, by opinion based upon hearing the voice at any time under circumstances connecting it with the alleged speaker.
(6) Telephone Conversations. Telephone conversations, by evidence that a call was made to the number assigned at the time by the telephone company to a particular person or business, if (i) in the case of a person, circumstances, including self-identification, show the person answering to be the one called, or (ii) in the case of a business, the call was made to a place of business and the conversation related to business reasonably transacted over the telephone.
(7) Public Records or Reports. (Reserved. See RCW 5.44 and CR 44.)
(8) Ancient Documents or Data Compilation. Evidence that a document or data compilation, in any form, (i) is in such condition as to create no suspicion concerning its authenticity, (ii) was in a place where it, if authentic, would likely be, and (iii) has been in existence 20 years or more at the time it is offered.
(9) Process or System. Evidence describing a process or system used to produce a result and showing that the process or system produces an accurate result.
(10) Electronic Mail (E-mail). Testimony by a person with knowledge that (i) the e-mail purports to be authored or created by the particular sender or the sender's agent; (ii) the e-mail purports to be sent from an e-mail address associated with the particular sender or the sender's agent; and (iii) the appearance, contents, substance, internal patterns, or other distinctive characteristics of the e-mail, taken in conjunction with the circumstances, are sufficient to support a finding that the e-mail in question is what the proponent claims.
(11) Methods Provided by Statute or Rule. Any method of authentication or identification provided by statute or court rule.
[Adopted effective April 2, 1979; amended effective December 10, 2013.] Comment 901 [Deleted effective September 1, 2006.]
ER 902: SELF-AUTHENTICATION
Extrinsic evidence of authenticity as a condition precedent to admissibility is not required with respect to the following:
(a) Domestic Public Documents Under Seal. A document bearing a seal purporting to be that of the United States, or of any state, district, commonwealth, territory, or insular possession thereof, or the Panama Canal Zone, or the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, or of a political subdivision, department, officer, or agency thereof, and a signature purporting to be an attestation or execution.
(b) Domestic Public Documents Not Under Seal. A document purporting to bear the signature in the official capacity of an officer or employee of any entity included in section (a), having no seal, if a public officer having a seal and having official duties in the district or political subdivision of the officer or employee certifies under seal that the signer has the official capacity and that the signature is genuine.
(c) Foreign Public Documents. A document purporting to be executed or attested in an official capacity by a person authorized by the laws of a foreign country to make the execution or attestation, and accompanied by a final certification as to the genuineness of the signature and official position (1) of the executing or attesting person, or (2) of any foreign official whose certificate of genuineness of signature and official position relates to the execution or attestation or is in a chain of certificates of genuineness of signature and official position relating to the execution or attestation. A final certification may be made by a secretary of embassy or legation, consul general, consul, vice-consul, or consular agent of the United States, or a diplomatic or consular official of the foreign country assigned or accredited to the United States. If reasonable opportunity has been given to all parties to investigate the authenticity and accuracy of official documents, the court may, for good cause shown, order that they be treated as presumptively authentic without final certification or permit them to be evidenced by an attested summary with or without final certification.
(d) Certified Copies of Public Records. A copy of an official record or report or entry therein, or of a document authorized by law to be recorded or filed and actually recorded or filed in a public office, including data compilations in any form, certified as correct by the custodian or other person authorized to make the certification, by certificate complying with section (a), (b), or (c) of this rule or complying with any applicable law, treaty or convention of the United States, or the applicable law of a state or territory of the United States.
(e) Official Publications. Books, pamphlets, or other publications purporting to be issued by public authority.
(f) Newspapers and Periodicals. Printed materials purporting to be newspapers or periodicals.
(g) Trade Inscriptions and the Like. Inscriptions, signs, tags, or labels purporting to have been affixed in the course of business and indicating ownership, control, or origin.
(h) Acknowledged Documents. Documents accompanied by a certificate of acknowledgment executed in the manner provided by law by a notary public or other officer authorized by law to take acknowledgments.
(i) Commercial Paper and Related Documents. Commercial paper, signatures thereon, and documents relating thereto to the extent provided by general commercial law.
(j) Presumptions Created by Law. Any signature, document, or other matter declared by any law of the United States or of this state to be presumptively or prima facie genuine or authentic.
[Amended effective August 27, 1980; September 1, 1988; September 1, 1992.] Comment 902 [Deleted effective September 1, 2006.]
ER 903: SUBSCRIBING WITNESS' TESTIMONY UNNECESSARY
The testimony of a subscribing witness is not necessary to authenticate a writing unless required by the laws of the jurisdiction whose laws govern the validity of the writing.
[Adopted effective April 2, 1979.] Comment 903 [Deleted effective September 1, 2006.]
ER 904: ADMISSIBILITY OF DOCUMENTS
(a) Certain Documents Admissible. In a civil case, any of the following documents proposed as exhibits in accordance with section (b) of this rule shall be deemed admissible unless objection is made under section (c) of this rule:
(1) A bill, report made for the purpose of treatment, chart, record of a hospital, doctor, dentist, registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, physical therapist, psychologist or other health care provider, on a letterhead or billhead;
(2) A bill for drugs, medical appliances or other related expenses on a letterhead or billhead;
(3) A bill for, or an estimate of, property damage on a letterhead or billhead. In the case of an estimate, the party intending to offer the estimate shall forward a copy to the adverse party with a statement indicating whether or not the property was repaired, and if it was, whether the estimated repairs were made in full or in part and attach a copy of the receipted bill showing the items of repair and amounts paid;
(4) A weather or traffic signal report, or standard United States government table;
(5) A photograph, x-ray, drawing, map, blueprint or similar documentary evidence;
(6) A document not specifically covered by any of the foregoing provisions but relating to a material fact and having equivalent circumstantial guaranties of trustworthiness, the admission of which would serve the interests of justice.
(b) Notice. Any party intending to offer a document under this rule must serve on all parties a notice, no less than 30 days before trial, stating that the documents are being offered under Evidence Rule 904 and shall be deemed authentic and admissible without testimony or further identification, unless objection is served within 14 days of the date of notice, pursuant to ER 904(c). The notice shall be accompanied by (1) numbered copies of the documents and (2) an index, which shall be organized by document number and which shall contain a brief description of the document along with the name, address and telephone number of the document's author or maker. The notice shall be filed with the court. Copies of documents that accompany the notice shall not be filed with the court.
(c) Objection to Authenticity or Admissibility. Within 14 days of notice, any other party may serve on all parties a written objection to any document offered under section (b), identifying each document to which objection is made by number and brief description. (1) If an objection is made to a document on the basis of authentication, and if the court finds that the objection was made without reasonable basis, the offering party shall be entitled to an award of expenses and reasonable attorney fees incurred as a result of the required proof of authentication as to each such document determined to be authentic and offered as an exhibit at the time of trial. (2) If an objection is made to a document on the basis of admissibility, the grounds for the objection shall be specifically set forth, except objection on the grounds of relevancy need not be made until trial. If the court finds that the objection was made without reasonable basis and the document is admitted as an exhibit at trial, the court may award the offering party any expenses incurred and reasonable attorney fees.
(d) Effect of Rule. This rule does not restrict argument or proof relating to the weight to be accorded the evidence submitted, nor does it restrict the trier of fact's authority to determine the weight of the evidence after hearing all of the evidence and the arguments of opposing parties.
[Adopted effective September 18, 1992; amended effective October 29, 1993; January 27, 1998.]