708.10Commercial Publications [Rule 803(17)]

Last Updated: 12/01/23

Key Concepts

  • Statements and information found in commercial publications such as price guides, market reports, and phone directories are not barred by the hearsay rules.
  • Such publications are generally self-authenticating, and are deemed reliable because of the publisher’s desire to ensure public reliance on the publication.

The Basic Rule

Rule 803(17) – Market Reports, Commercial Publications

Market quotations, tabulations, lists, directories, or other published compilations, generally used and relied upon by the public or by persons in particular occupations.

G.S. 8C-803(17).

Admissibility and Scope

Rule 803(17) allows the introduction of “market quotations, tabulations, lists, directories, or other published compilations” if those documents are “generally used and relied upon” by the public or individuals engaged in particular occupations. G.S. 8C-803(17). This rule codifies the long-standing common law practice of admitting a variety of items falling in this category, including not only trade-specific reports and compilations but also more general publications such as “newspaper market reports, telephone directories, and city directories.” G.S. 8C-803(17), Official Commentary.

Directories and publications that fall within the purview of Rule 803(17) will usually be self-authenticating. See, e.g., G.S. 8C-902(5) (“Official publications” are self-authenticating); G.S. 8C-902(6) (“Newspapers and periodicals” are self-authenticating); G.S. 8C-902(7) (“Trade inscriptions and the like” are self-authenticating). The accuracy and trustworthiness of these kinds of publications and directories are self-ensured by the “general reliance by the public or by a particular segment of it, and the motivation of the compiler to foster reliance by being accurate.” G.S. 8C-803(17), Official Commentary.

Rule 803(17) is more frequently used in civil practice than in criminal prosecutions, but it can be helpful for establishing elements in a criminal case such as the value of stolen property based on the listing for a comparable item in a pricing guide. See State v. Dallas, 205 N.C. App. 216 (2010), rev. denied, 364 N.C. 604 (2010) (Kelley Blue Book and NADA pricing guide were admissible under this rule for purpose of establishing the value of a stolen motor vehicle); Power v. Power, 236 N.C. App. 581 (2014) (civil case, similarly holding that Kelley Blue Book was admissible under Rule 803(17) to establish vehicle value); see also State v. Adams, 177 N.C. App. 287 (2006) (unpublished) (trial court refused defendant’s request to admit a NHTSA manual under this rule in a DWI trial, but appellate court declined to address the issue because error and prejudice were improperly alleged)

Portions of this entry were excerpted from Jessica Smith, “Criminal Evidence: Hearsay,” North Carolina Superior Court Judges’ Benchbook, October 2013.