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Georgia Law – Evidence – The Best Evidence Rule

§ 24-10-1001.  Definitions 

   As used in this chapter, the term:

   (1) “Writing” or “recording” means letters, words, or numbers, or their equivalent, set down by handwriting, typewriting, printing, photostating, magnetic impulse, or mechanical or electronic recording or other form of data compilation.

   (2) “Photograph” includes still photographs, X-ray films, video recordings, and motion pictures.

   (3) “Original” means the writing or recording itself or any counterpart intended to have the same effect by a person executing or issuing it. An original of a photograph includes the negative or any print therefrom. If data are stored in a computer or similar device, any printout or other output readable by sight, shown to reflect the data accurately, is an original.

   (4) “Duplicate” means a counterpart produced by the same impression as the original or from the same matrix or by means of photography, including enlargements and miniatures, or by mechanical or electronic rerecording, chemical reproduction, or other equivalent techniques which accurately reproduce the original.

   (5) “Public record” shall have the same meaning as set forth in Code Section 24-8-801.

§ 24-10-1002.  Requirement of original 

   To prove the contents of a writing, recording, or photograph, the original writing, recording, or photograph shall be required.

§ 24-10-1003.  Admissibility of duplicates 

   A duplicate shall be admissible to the same extent as an original unless:

   (1) A genuine question is raised as to the authenticity of the original; or

   (2) A circumstance exists where it would be unfair to admit the duplicate in lieu of the original.

§ 24-10-1004.  Admissibility of other evidence of contents of a writing, recording, or photograph 

   The original shall not be required and other evidence of the contents of a writing, recording, or photograph shall be admissible if:

   (1) All originals are lost or have been destroyed, unless the proponent lost or destroyed them in bad faith;

   (2) No original can be obtained by any available judicial process or procedure;

   (3) At a time when an original was under the control of the party against whom offered, that party was put on notice, by the pleadings or otherwise, that the contents would be a subject of proof at the hearing, and that party does not produce the original at the hearing; or

   (4) The writing, recording, or photograph is not closely related to a controlling issue.

§ 24-10-1005.  Public records 

   The contents of a public record, or of a document authorized to be recorded or filed and actually recorded or filed, including data compilations in any form, if otherwise admissible, may be proved by duplicate, certified as correct in accordance with Code Section 24-9-902 or Code Section 24-9-920 or testified to be correct by a witness who has compared it with the original. If a duplicate which complies with this Code section cannot be obtained by the exercise of reasonable diligence, then other evidence of the contents may be given.

§ 24-10-1006.  Summaries 

   The contents of otherwise admissible voluminous writings, recordings, or photographs which cannot conveniently be examined in court may be presented in the form of a chart, summary, or calculation. The originals, or duplicates, shall be made available for examination or copying, or both, by other parties at a reasonable time and place. The court may order that the contents of such writings, recordings, or photographs be produced in court.

§ 24-10-1007.  Testimony or written admission of party 

   The contents of writings, recordings, or photographs may be proved by the testimony or deposition of the party against whom offered or by that party’s written admission, without accounting for the nonproduction of the original.

§ 24-10-1008.  Functions of court and jury 

   When the admissibility of other evidence of the contents of writings, recordings, or photographs under the rules of evidence depends upon the fulfillment of a condition of fact, the question of whether the condition has been fulfilled is ordinarily for the court to determine in accordance with the provisions of Code Section 24-1-104; provided, however, that when an issue is raised as to:

   (1) Whether the asserted writing, recording, or photograph ever existed;

   (2) Whether another writing, recording, or photograph produced at the trial is the original; or

   (3) Whether other evidence of the contents correctly reflects the contents,

the issue is for the trier of fact to determine as in the case of other issues of fact