doctrine of completeness

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Under Rule 106 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, when an incomplete writing or recorded statement is introduced in a trial by one party, the adverse party may require the introduction of any other parts or any other writing or recorded statement which ought, in fairness, to be considered contemporaneously with the writing or recorded statement originally introduced. This doctrine of completeness is to ensure the jury views the incomplete statement in its full context. 

This additional evidence is called explanatory evidence, and its purpose is to qualify, explain or put the original piece of introduced evidence in context. Additionally, otherwise inadmissible evidence, such as hearsay, can be admissible under this rule if it is necessary to correct any confusion or wrongful impression created by the admission of the original evidence.

[Last updated in September of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]