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Sunday, November 20, 2005

Evidence Rule 305 (Presumptions of Prima Facie Evidence )

Rule 305 Prima facie evidence. A statute providing that a fact or a group of facts is prima facie evidence of another fact establishes a presumption within the meaning of this article unless the statute expressly provides that such prima facie evidence is conclusive

Under Hawaii's Evidence Code, there are a number of stautory presumptions of prima facie evidence the Court will accept. These are useful and consist of:

  • §560:1-107(1) (1976), making a certified or authenticated copy of a death certificate prima facie evidence of the fact, place, date and time of death and the identity of the decedent
  • §622-31, making a written finding of "presumed death" prima facie evidence of the death of the person named;
  • §572-13(c), making a certified copy of a certificate of marriage prima facie evidence of the fact of such marriage;
  • §575-2, making the absence of a husband or wife for six continuous months prima facie evidence of desertion;
  • §634-22, making a record or affidavit of process prima facie evidence of all that it contains.

The trial attorney might also want to keep in mind these following statutes which describe the degree of proof needed to overcome the identified presumption:

  • §701-117 (1976), which provides that contrary evidence that raises "a reasonable doubt in the mind of the trier of fact" is sufficient; and
  • §584-4(b) (1976), which provides that prima facie evidence paternity may be overcome only by "clear and convincing evidence"

This information was gathered in the commentary to Rule 305, which also discusses conclusive presumptions by referring the reader to another Rule in the 300 series.

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