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Elimination of Ancient Document Exception Proposed
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ancient document exception

Summary: The federal judiciary is toying with the idea of eliminating the rarely used ancient documents exception from court statements.

The old saying of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is the argument that critics to the proposal given by the federal judiciary to remove the ancient document exception. The exception allows lawyers to submit apparently authentic documents at least twenty years old that would otherwise not be admissible.


The judiciary is worried that since documents can now be stored electronically for a very long time that courts may become flooded with requests to allow documents under the exception. The exception is barely used but critics say that when it is used, it is very crucial to a case.

One famous case where the exception was used was in 1961 when a courthouse clock tower collapsed. The dispute over the collapse was settled when a 50-year-old newspaper clipping was introduced detailing a fire at the courthouse in 1901.

The judiciary will hear public comments until February when they will then make their decision. Some claim that just because a document is old does not make us reliable. The exception has not become a problem yet but that is why the fiduciary is tackling it now. They have been looking at several rules that deal with electronically stored information and want to correct any that may be taken advantage in the future.

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