VA: SW affidavit not admissible in a civil dispute where it contained multiple levels of hearsay

In a civil dispute over a condo, one party sought to use a search warrant affidavit as evidence, and they filed a motion in limine. The trial judge first denied it, then sua sponte granted it as the trial started. It did not qualify as a business record and it contained multiple levels of hearsay. No abuse of discretion here in rejecting it. Ventures v. Chatham Ridge Condo. Unit Owner’s Ass’n, 2024 Va. App. LEXIS 73 (Feb. 13, 2024) (unpublished):

Considering the record in light of these principles, we cannot say the trial court abused its discretion by excluding the search warrant affidavit. As noted by the trial court, Detective Miller’s affidavit contains multiple levels of hearsay. For hearsay within hearsay to be admissible, both the primary hearsay declaration and each hearsay declaration included within it must conform to a recognized exception to the hearsay rule. See Commonwealth v. Swann, 290 Va. 194, 198 (2015); Va. R. Evid. 2:805 (“Hearsay included within hearsay is not excluded under the hearsay rule if each part of the combined statements conforms with an exception to the hearsay rule.” (emphasis added)). The first level of hearsay includes the statements made by Detective Miller. But within that hearsay is another hearsay statement attributed to Pendleton. Thus, the affidavit is admissible only if both Detective Miller’s statements and the reference to Pendleton’s report included therein conform to an exception to the hearsay rule. See Swann, 290 Va. at 198; Va. R. Evid. 2:805.

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