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Kansas Considering Changes to Hearsay Exclusions

by | Feb 21, 2024 | Firm News

If passed, a proposed bill before the Kansas Senate will make it easier for litigants to admit statements made to translators into evidence. The current version of the bill adds an exception to the rule against hearsay, which reads:

(ff)  Language conduit rule. A statement made by a party to a translator without the testimony of the translator unless the judge finds that the translator had a motive to mislead or distort the statement or that the translation was substantially inaccurate.

This amendment, which was submitted as Senate Bill 72, is currently working its way through the Senate, and could result in the first new exception to hearsay since 2021. The bill is currently before the Senate Judiciary Committee and has already had one hearing.

The proposed amendment to K.S.A. 60-460 adds an exception to the hearsay rule to allow admission of statements made to a translator without the testimony of the translator. In Kansas, a statement made by victim, witness, or suspect to a police officer is hearsay if that statement was provided to the police via an interpreter. The proposed amendment would resolve the hearsay issue and make the statement admissible. Proponents argue that this bill will lower the costs for litigants who currently must have the interpreter testify that the translation was accurate, particularly for languages not commonly used in the United States.

As this bill progresses through committee and the Kansas Senate, we will provide updates on its chances for passage and any amendments made to the bill from its current form.