Gause and Hargrove

The court can consider several things to determine that a document is legal in court. The first issue would be to determine if the document is being used in a civil or criminal matter. Once that is determined, the court will apply the appropriate rules to the document. If the document is to be used in a civil matter, then the Rules of Civil Procedure apply. If the document is to be used in a criminal matter, then the Rules of Criminal Procedure apply. Finally, the Rules of Evidence apply to either case. For instance, in a criminal case a witness may fill out an affidavit of what they saw and give it to a law enforcement officer. The officer would have the witness swear to the truth of what was written and then sign the document. The affidavit would then be submitted with the police report. The document could then be used as a legal document in court. However, it could be opposed by an attorney if a Rule of Evidence could keep it out. In a Civil case, there are several documents that could be considered legal documents. In one case many, many years ago while two men were sitting in a bar they agreed to the sale and purchase of a farm written on a napkin. This napkin was later introduced in court as proof that the parties had made a binding agreement. The court determined that there was a contract and required the two men to follow through with the agreed upon terms. In other cases, courts have refused to adhere to the terms of a document prepared by attorneys because it was unconscionable or because it was improperly notarized. Ultimately, the court determines what will make the document legal in court. If you think you can scribble something on a napkin as a joke and it not be a legal document, think again. On the flip side, if you think you can sign documents in an attorney’s office and they will be legal, think again. There are so many scenarios that can occur that it is not until the fighting begins does the legality of the document truly come to light.