IN RE: ORDER APPROVING THE AMENDMENT OF PENNSYLVANIA RULES OF EVIDENCE 901(a), 902(4), 902(6) AND 902(12)
NOW, this 4th day of November, 2019, upon
the recommendation of the Committee on Rules of Evidence; the
proposal having been published for public comment at 49 Pa.B.
1336 (March 23, 2019):
Ordered pursuant to Article V, Section 10 of the Constitution
of Pennsylvania that Pennsylvania Rules of Evidence 901(a),
902(4), 902(6), and 902(12) are amended in the attached form.
Order shall be processed in accordance with Pa.R.J.A. No.
103(b), and shall be effective January 1, 2020.
IX. AUTHENTICATION AND IDENTIFICATION
901. Authenticating or Identifying Evidence
In General. Unless stipulated,
[T]to satisfy the requirement of
authenticating or identifying an item of evidence, the
proponent must produce evidence sufficient to support a
finding that the item is what the proponent claims it is.
Examples. The following are examples only - not a
complete list - of evidence that satisfies the requirement:
(1) Testimony of a Witness with Knowledge.
Testimony that an item is what it is claimed to be.
(2) Nonexpert Opinion about Handwriting. A
nonexpert's opinion that handwriting is genuine, based on
a familiarity with it that was not acquired for the current
(3) Comparison by an Expert Witness or the Trier of
Fact. A comparison with an authenticated specimen by
an expert witness or the trier of fact.
(4) Distinctive Characteristics and the
Like. The appearance, contents, substance, internal
patterns, or other distinctive characteristics of the item,
taken together with all the circumstances.
(5) Opinion About a Voice. An opinion
identifying a person's voice - whether heard firsthand or
through mechanical or electronic transmission or recording -
based on hearing the voice at any time under circumstances
that connect it with the alleged speaker.
(6) Evidence About a Telephone Conversation.
For a telephone conversation, evidence that a call was made
to the number assigned at the time to:
(A) a particular person, if circumstances, including
self-identification, show that the person answering was the
one called; or
(B) a particular business, if the call was made to a business
and the call related to business reasonably transacted over
(7) Evidence About Public Records.
(A) a document was recorded or filed in a public office as
authorized by law; or
(B) a purported public record or statement is from the office
where items of this kind are kept.
(8) Evidence About Ancient Documents or Data
Compilations. For a document or data compilation,
evidence that it:
(A) is in a condition that creates no suspicion about its
(B) was in a place where, if authentic, it would likely be;
(C) is at least 30 years old when offered.
(9) Evidence About a Process or System.
Evidence describing a process or system and showing that it
produces an accurate result.
(10) Methods Provided by a Statute or a
Rule. Any method of authentication or identification
allowed by a statute or a rule prescribed by the Supreme
901(a) is substantively identical to F.R.E. 901(a)
and consistent with Pennsylvania law. The authentication or
identification requirement may be expressed as follows: When
a party offers evidence contending either expressly or
impliedly that the evidence is connected with a person,
place, thing, or event, the party must provide evidence
sufficient to support a finding of the contended connection.
See Commonwealth v. Hudson, [489 Pa. 620');">489 Pa. 620');">489 Pa. 620');">489 Pa. 620');">489 Pa. 620');">489 Pa. 620');">489 Pa. 620');">489 Pa. 620, ] 414 A.2d
1381 (Pa. 1980); Commonwealth v. Pollock, [414 Pa.
Super. 66, ] 606 A.2d 500 (Pa. Super. 1992). The
proponent may be relieved of this burden when all parties
have stipulated the authenticity or identification of the
evidence. See, e.g., Pa.R.C.P. No. 212.3(a)(3) (Pre-Trial
Conference); Pa.R.C.P. No. 4014 (Request for Admission);
Pa.R.Crim.P. 570(A)(2) & (3) (Pre-Trial Conference).
cases, real evidence may not be relevant unless its condition
at the time of trial is similar to its condition at the time
of the incident in question. In such cases, the party
offering the evidence must also introduce evidence sufficient
to support a finding that the condition is similar.
Pennsylvania law treats this requirement as an aspect of
authentication. See Commonwealth v. Hudson, [489 Pa.
620, ] 414 A.2d 1381 (Pa. 1980).
evidence such as photographs, motion pictures, diagrams and
models must be authenticated by evidence sufficient to
support a finding that the demonstrative evidence fairly and
accurately represents that which it purports to depict.
See Nyce v. Muffley, [384 Pa. 107');">384 Pa. 107, ] 119 A.2d 530
901(b) is identical to F.R.E. 901(b).
901(b)(1) is identical to F.R.E. 901(b)(1). It is consistent
with Pennsylvania law in that the testimony of a witness with
personal knowledge may be sufficient to authenticate or
identify the evidence. See Commonwealth v. Hudson,
[489 Pa. 620');">489 Pa. 620');">489 Pa. 620');">489 Pa. 620');">489 Pa. 620');">489 Pa. 620');">489 Pa. 620');">489 Pa. 620, ] 414 A.2d 1381 (Pa. 1980).
901(b)(2) is identical to F.R.E. 901(b)(2). It is consistent
with 42 Pa.C.S. § 6111, which also deals with the
admissibility of handwriting.
901(b)(3) is identical to F.R.E. 901(b)(3). It is consistent
with Pennsylvania law. When there is a question as to the
authenticity of an exhibit, the trier of fact will have to
resolve the issue. This may be done by comparing the exhibit
to authenticated specimens. See Commonwealth v.
Gipe, [169 Pa. Super. 623');">169 Pa. Super. 623, ] 84 A.2d 366 (Pa. Super.
1951) (comparison of typewritten document with authenticated
specimen). Under this rule, the court must decide whether the
specimen used for comparison to the exhibit is authentic. If
the court determines that there is sufficient evidence to
support a finding that the specimen is authentic, the trier
of fact is then permitted to ...