701.6Rule of Completeness [Rule 106]
- When a party introduces only one part of a writing or recorded statement, the other party may demand that the remaining part of that writing or recorded statement also be introduced, if “in fairness” the remaining part needs to be considered at the same time.
- The request to introduce the remaining part must be made contemporaneously with the introduction of the first part.
- The rule only applies to remainders of the writing or recorded statement that are also explanatory or relevant – irrelevant or separate writings and recorded statements are not considered under this rule.
The Basic Rule
Rule 106 – Remainder of or Related Writings or Recorded Statements
When a writing or recorded statement or part thereof is introduced by a party, an adverse party may require him at that time to introduce any other part or any other writing or recorded statement which ought in fairness to be considered contemporaneously with it.
Rule 106 is commonly referred to as the “rule of completeness.” The primary purpose of the rule is to counter “the misleading impression created by taking matters out of context.” G.S. 8C-106, Official Commentary. See, e.g., State v. Ratliff, 341 N.C. 610 (1995) (defendant opened the door for admission of entire statement given to detective by another person, even though it was hearsay, since defendant asked about only one part of the statement on cross-examination, and that part standing alone was taken out of context and misleading); see also State v. Vick, 341 N.C. 569 (1995) (if state only introduces part of defendant’s confession the defense may present the other related parts of that statement, even if they are self-serving, but only if they are part of the same verbal transaction).
Although these concerns could arise with virtually any evidentiary matter, Rule 106 is limited, for practical reasons, to writings and recorded statements. It does not apply to conversations. G.S. 8C-106, Official Commentary.
The party seeking to introduce a related or remaining portion of a writing or recording must make that request contemporaneously with the introduction of the evidence. See G.S. 8C-106 (“…may require him at that time to introduce…”). The rationale for requiring the offering party to introduce the remainder of the writing or recording “at that time” is because of the “inadequacy of repair work when delayed to a point later in the trial.” G.S. 8C-106, Official Commentary. See State v. Lloyd, 354 N.C. 76 (2001) (other portion of defendant's police statement was not admissible under rule of completeness when defendant failed to seek to introduce the excluded portion contemporaneously, as required by rule, but instead sought to introduce it on rebuttal).
The party seeking to introduce the related or remaining matter bears the burden of demonstrating that the excluded parts are explanatory or relevant. State v. Hall, 194 N.C. App. 42 (2008). Rule 106 does not authorize introduction of writings or recordings if they are unrelated, made at different times or to different persons, or do not have a direct bearing on the portion of the writing or recording that was introduced. See, e.g., State v. Vann, 261 N.C. App. 724 (2018) (trial court did not abuse its discretion by allowing into evidence incriminating portions of the defendant’s phone call to his grandmother from jail while denying defendant's request to include exculpatory statements made to his grandmother that were neither explanatory of nor relevant to the admitted statements); State v. Jackson, 340 N.C. 301 (1995) (defendant’s self-serving statement to his girlfriend about the shooting was not admissible under Rule 106 in response to the state’s introduction of his confession); State v. Thompson, 332 N.C. 204 (1992) (introduction of recordings of defendant’s phone calls did not authorize or require introduction of a transcript of a later interview defendant had with police); State v. Barnes, 116 N.C. App. 311 (1994) (no error where trial court excluded irrelevant and immaterial portions of defendant’s statement that defense counsel asked to introduce – excluded portions were not relevant to the admitted portions).