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South Carolina
JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT
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RULE 902

RULE 902
SELF-AUTHENTICATION

Extrinsic evidence of authenticity as a condition precedent to admissibility is not required with respect to the following:

(1) Domestic Public Documents Under Seal. A document bearing a seal purporting to be that of the United States, or of any State, district, Commonwealth, territory, or insular possession thereof, or the Panama Canal Zone, or the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, or of a political subdivision, department, officer, or agency thereof, and a signature purporting to be an attestation or execution.

(2) Domestic Public Documents Not Under Seal. A document purporting to bear the signature in the official capacity of an officer or employee of any entity included in subsection (1) hereof, having no seal, if a public officer having a seal and having official duties in the district or political subdivision of the officer or employee certifies under seal that the signer has the official capacity and that the signature is genuine.

(3) Foreign Public Documents. A document purporting to be executed or attested in an official capacity by a person authorized by the laws of a foreign country to make the execution or attestation, and accompanied by a final certification as to the genuineness of the signature and official position (A) of the executing or attesting person, or (B) of any foreign official whose certificate of genuineness of signature and official position relates to the execution or attestation or is in a chain of certificates of genuineness of signature and official position relating to the execution or attestation. A final certification may be made by a secretary of embassy or legation, consul general, consul, vice consul, or consular agent of the United States, or a diplomatic or consular official of the foreign country assigned or accredited to the United States. If reasonable opportunity has been given to all parties to investigate the authenticity and accuracy of official documents, the court may, for good cause shown, order that they be treated as presumptively authentic without final certification or permit them to be evidenced by an attested summary with or without final certification.

(4) Certified Copies of Public Records. A copy of an official record or report or entry therein, or of a document authorized by law to be recorded or filed and actually recorded or filed in a public office, including data compilations in any form, certified as correct by the custodian or other person authorized to make the certification, by certificate complying with subsection (1), (2), or (3) of this rule or complying with any statute or rule promulgated by the Supreme Court.

(5) Official Publications. Books, pamphlets, or other publications purporting to be issued by public authority.

(6) Newspapers and Periodicals. Printed materials purporting to be newspapers or periodicals.

(7) Trade Inscriptions and the Like. Inscriptions, signs, tags, or labels purporting to have been affixed in the course of business and indicating ownership, control, or origin.

(8) Acknowledged Documents. Documents accompanied by a certificate of acknowledgment executed in the manner provided by law by a notary public or other officer authorized by law to take acknowledgments.

(9) Commercial Paper and Related Documents. Commercial paper, signatures thereon, and documents relating thereto to the extent provided by general commercial law.

(10) Presumptions Under Statutes. Any signature, document or other matter declared by statute to be presumptively or prima facie genuine or authentic.

Note:

With the exception of subsections (4) and (10) which are discussed below, this rule is identical to the federal rule.

Subsection (1): South Carolina law has previously permitted self-authentication of certain classes of domestic public documents under seal. See e.g., S.C. Code Ann. § 19-5-220 (1985) (proof of various documents under seal of any city or state).

Subsection (2): There does not appear to be any South Carolina law permitting self-authentication in these circumstances.

Subsection (3) is similar to Rule 44(a)(2), SCRCP.

Subsection (4) is identical to the federal rule except that it is amended so as to also allow compliance with "any statute or rule prescribed by the Supreme Court." Examples of such statutes and rules include: S.C. Code Ann. § 19-5-10 (1985) (admissibility of certified copies or certified photostatic copies of documents); S.C. Code Ann. § 19-5-30 (Supp. 1993) (admissibility of photostatic or certified copies of certain motor vehicle records); Rule 44(a)(1), SCRCP (authentication of domestic records); Rule 6, SCRCrimP (self-authentication of chemist's or analyst's report of nature of "controlled dangerous substances").

Subsection (5): There does not appear to be any South Carolina authority for this proposition.

Subsection (6) appears to be consistent with South Carolina law. See Kirkpatrick v. Hardeman, 123 S.C. 21, 115 S.E. 905 (1923) (although unclear if Court treated as hearsay or authentication problem, newspaper reports of stock quotations were admitted for purpose of proving market value of stock).

Subsection (7): There does not appear to be any South Carolina authority for this proposition.

Subsection (8): This is similar to South Carolina Code Ann. §§ 19-5-220 and 19-5-230 (1985) which allow the self-authentication of certain documents of city, state or foreign governments under seal of a notary public.

Subsection (9): Under the Uniform Commercial Code, certain items are self-authenticating. See S.C. Code Ann. § 36-1-202 (1976) (includes bills of lading, insurance policies or any document authorized by the contract to be issued by third party); § 36-3-307 (1976) (signatures, unless specifically denied in the pleadings); § 36-3-510 (1976) (formal certificate of protest, a stamp by drawee that payment was refused, or bank records showing dishonor are all admissible in evidence and create a presumption of dishonor); § 36-8-105(3) (Supp. 1993) (signatures on a certificated security, in a necessary indorsement, on an initial transaction statement or on an instruction is admitted unless put into issue).

Subsection (10): This subsection differs from the federal rule only in that "declared by statute" is substituted for "declared by Act of Congress." An example of a statute under this subsection is S.C. Code Ann. § 39-15-140 (1985) (certificate of trademark registration issued by the Secretary of State).