Evidentiary admissions and judicial admissions: A quick refresher

The case of Armstead v. National Freight, Inc., 2019 IL App (3d) 170777, decided by the third district appellate court on February 5, 2019, gives a good explanation of the differences between evidentiary admissions and judicial admissions. All practitioners who find themselves in court or in administrative tribunals, for any reasons whatsoever, should know the differences.

"Judicial admissions are formal admissions in the pleadings that have the effect of withdrawing a fact from issue and dispensing wholly with the need for proof of the fact." The court further explained that a judicial admission must be clear, unequivocal, and uniquely within the admitting party's personal knowledge. A statement, to be a judicial admission, must also be an intentional statement by the person making the statement, that relates to concrete facts and not just an inference or uncertain summary. Further, the court explained that: “Judicial admissions ‘do not include admissions made during the course of other court proceedings.’”

"Evidentiary admissions may be made in, among other things, pleadings in a case other than the one being tried." Evidentiary admissions do not have the strength of judicial admissions, as evidentiary admissions may be explained by the party who made the statement.

Therefore, a statement is not a judicial admission when it was made in the course of another proceeding. It, therefore, would be considered an evidentiary admission that may be admitted in a different case, but to undermine and challenge the credibility of the witness. Both types of admissions are very useful in litigation and counsel will want to know if the person making a statement regarding a relevant fact, ever made a statement about that same fact in another forum. Any and all such prior statements should be investigated and analyzed for possible impeachment and defense purposes. Contradictory statements are evidentiary admissions and can be very useful when facts regarding material issues in a case are highly disputed.

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February 2019Volume 49Number 6PDF icon PDF version (for best printing)