Evidence Rule 803(8) and the Admissibility of Police Reports

Suppose that a law enforcement officer testifies for the State in a criminal case and is unable to remember some aspects of his investigation. The prosecutor shows the officer his report, which the officer prepared in the ordinary course of his work around the time of the events, but it does not refresh his memory. The prosecutor offers the report as evidence. The defendant’s attorney objects, relying on North Carolina Rule of Evidence 803(8). That rule creates an exception to the hearsay rule for official records and reports, but it specifically excludes “in criminal cases matters observed by police officers and other law-enforcement personnel.” The prosecutor argues that notwithstanding this prohibition, the report is admissible under other hearsay exceptions. Who’s right?

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