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Cotton v. John W. Eshelman & Sons

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Citation Edit

Cotton v. John W. Eshelman & Sons, Inc., 137 Ga. App. 360, 223 S.E.2d 757 (1976) (full-text).

Factual Background Edit

Eshelman sued Cotton for a sum due on an open account for various farm supplies. At trial, plaintiff introduced certain computer printouts evidencing defendant's account. The defendant objected to the evidence, claiming that since no witness having personal knowledge of the account testified, the evidence did not fall within the business records exception to the hearsay rule.

Appellate Court Proceedings Edit

The court of appeals first examined the business records exception to determine if computer-generated material was generally admissible. The statute stated that " [a]ny writing or record, whether in the form of an entry in a book or otherwise . . . shall be admissible in evidence. . . . This section shall be liberally interpreted and applied.”[1] Based upon this language, the court held that computer-generated material was admissible, since "our statute was intended to bring the realities of business and professional practice into the courtroom and should not be interpreted so as to destroy its obvious usefulness."[2]

The court further held that the evidence was admissible despite the lack of testimony by any witness having knowledge of the account. As authority for this point, the court cited the Georgia Code which states "[a]ll other circumstances of the making of such writing or record, ‘’including lack of personal knowledge by the entrant or maker,’’ may be shown to affect its weight, but they shall not affect its admissibility."[3] The judgment for plaintiff was affirmed.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Ga. Code Ann. § 38 711.
  2. 137 Ga. App. at 364, 223 S.E.2d at 761.
  3. Ga. Code Ann. § 38 711A (emphasis added).

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