Why Character Evidence Should Not Be Admitted during Quasi-Criminal Trials

Why Character Evidence Should Not Be Admitted during Quasi-Criminal Trials

Length: 1397 words (4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

In this paper, I argue that courts should not treat civil parties in quasi-criminal cases the same as criminal defendants because character evidence can be misused as propensity character evidence. Part II of this paper discusses the bar against admitting character evidence. Part III deals with the split among courts as to whether this rule can apply in quasi-criminal cases. Part IV of this paper concludes that courts should resolve this split and refrain from treating civil parties in quasi-criminal cases as criminal defendants because the risk of prejudice does not support this use of the Federal Rules of Evidence.
II. The Inadmissibility of Character Evidence
A. Before the Federal Rules
Federal Rule of Evidence 404 deals with the admissibility of character evidence. FRE 404(a)(1) lists the prohibited uses of character evidence, and states that “Evidence of a person's character or character trait is not admissible to prove that on a particular occasion the person acted in accordance with the character or trait.”1 This concept of “propensity character evidence” has been defined as the use of evidence at trial of either a person's character or a person's trait of character to prove that he or she has a tendency to act in a specific manner.2 Thus, if a person has a tendency to act in a certain way, it's more likely than not that the person acted in conformance with that tendency while committing a bad act.
This concept now embedded in the Federal Rules of Evidence can trace its philosophical underpinnings in prerevolutionary England. Before the 17th century, English courts had very few limitations on what evidence could be admitted into court.3 This court system, which was created in the wake of Norman invasion in 1066, did not ...


... middle of paper ...


...470 F. 2d 432, 434-5 (D.C. Cir. 1972).
Thomas J. Reed, Trial by Propensity: Admission of Other Criminal Acts Evidenced in Federal Criminal Trials, 50 U. Cin. L. Rev. 713, 716 (1981).
Glen Weissenberger, Making Sense of Extrinsic Act Evidence: Federal Rule of Evidence 404(b), 70
Iowa L. Rev. 579, 583 n.17 (1985).
Reed, supra note 28, at 716-17.
Weissenberger, supra note 29, at 579, 603 n.75.
Reed, supra note 28, at 717.
People v. Shea, 41 N.E. 505, 511 (1895).
Weissenberger, supra note 75, at 603.
People v. Molineux, 61 N.E. 286, 302 (1901).
Boyd v. United States, 142 U.S. 450 (1892).
Fed. R. Evid. 404(a) advisory committee's note.
Fed. R. Evid.404.
Christopher W. Behan, When Turnabout Is Fair Play: Character Evidence and Self-Defense in Homicide and Assault Cases, 86 Or. L. Rev. 733, 746 (2007).
Fed. R. Evid. 403.
SEC v. Peters, 978 F.2d 1162, 1170 (10th Cir. 1992).

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay about Salem Witch Trials Vs. The Crucible

- Salem Witch Trials vs The Crucible The events that took place in Salem Massachusetts during 1692 through 1693, would forever define the colonial religious extremists, known as the Puritans. The Salem Witch Trials created a distinct nuance, that marked a dark period in American history. The dramatized version of the Witch Trials, The Crucible, resulted in a semi accurate representation of the historical events that occurred in Salem Massachusetts. The author Arthur Miller, wrote the playwright by incorporating factual content, as well as imaginary aspects that brought the characters of the Witch Trials to life....   [tags: Salem witch trials, The Crucible, Samuel Parris]

Strong Essays
1041 words (3 pages)

Essay on The Evidence Of The Salem Witch Trials

- A diverse array of historiographical arguments concerning the preliminary causes of the Salem Witch Trials have emerged subsequently to their occurrences, clashing along a vastly debatable spectrum of economic, social, and political influences. (cite) Escalating accusations backed by miniscule evidence reaped terror among the Salem community. No one was truly immune to an accusation, and being accused had a high probability of devastating one 's reputation for the remainder of their lives. Conversely to the linear notion of believing a singular cause was responsible for the atrocities among the Salem community, an intertwined network of various tensions set the anemic foundation for a monstr...   [tags: Salem witch trials, Puritan, Witchcraft, Salem]

Strong Essays
1134 words (3.2 pages)

The Trials Of The Salem Witch Trials Essay

- The Salem Witch Trials took place in the summer and into the fall of the year 1692, and during this dark time of American history, over 200 people had been accused of witchcraft and put in jail. Twenty of these accused were executed; nineteen of them were found guilty and were put to death by hanging. One refused to plead guilty, so the villagers tortured him by pressing him with large stones until he died. The Salem Witch Trials was an infamous, scary time period in American history that exhibited the amount of fear people had of the devil and the supernatural; the people of this time period accused, arrested, and executed many innocent people because of this fear, and there are severa...   [tags: Salem witch trials, Witchcraft, Salem]

Strong Essays
1060 words (3 pages)

Essay on The Trials Of Salem Witch Trials

- Salem witch trials The Salem Witch Trials were a series of harsh, unconstitutional, and even chaotic trials that killed several innocent people and harmed others. There were several reasons different sources have come up with that are said to have cause in the trials and the way they played out. Some of the reasons that cause the trials to go how they went is the weather, religion, and lust. Through out my research over the topic I learned that the judges in charge of the trials let fear and conspiracy control their judgment in the trials and caused several innocent people to die....   [tags: Salem witch trials, Witchcraft, The Crucible]

Strong Essays
1140 words (3.3 pages)

The Trials Of The Salem Witch Trials Essay

- In 1692 the town of Salem, Massachusetts was home to one of the most controversial upsets in judicial history. The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings and prosecutions in which several people in colonial Massachusetts were accused of performing witchcraft. The supernatural was a commonplace observance in 17th-century North America. “:Witchcraft cases were hardly unknown in New England in the 1600s—more than a hundred were recorded before 1692—but they were mostly isolated, widely separated in time and space, scattered around the colonies”(Brandt 38)....   [tags: Salem witch trials, Witchcraft, Puritan, Salem]

Strong Essays
727 words (2.1 pages)

Mccarthyism And The Witch Trials Essay

- Herbert Block, a cartoon illustrator during McCarthyism, depicts the absurdity of the communist accusations during the 1950s through his drawings of fictitious evidence and the power hungry government. Despite the lack of evidence, the influence of the government’s spurious claims causes unnecessary hysteria and chaos within America. Likewise, these events are prevalent within Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible. The witch trials symbolize the court hearings during McCarthyism, and an identical absence of feasible evidence and a town overridden by fear lead to fallacious convictions....   [tags: Salem witch trials, The Crucible, Salem]

Strong Essays
707 words (2 pages)

The Salem Witch Trials And The Mccarthy Trials Essay

- Wiccaphobia During the 1690’s in Salem, Massachusetts, one of the most disgraceful events in American history took place. 20 innocent people were sentenced to death on charges of witchcraft (Kortuem). At the time there was a witch scare sweeping across the North East of America in a time we know today as the Salem Witch Trials. The witch trials was one of the most shameful events in American history. In fact, it was compared to another event by a man named Arthur Miller. Arthur Miller was a playwright from New York who wrote many famous plays like Death of a Salesman, All my Sons, and of course The Crucible (Kortuem)....   [tags: Salem witch trials, The Crucible, Witchcraft]

Strong Essays
1396 words (4 pages)

The Salem Witch Trials : A Horrible Event Essay

- The Salem Witch Trials were a horrible event in the history of the United States of America. The Salem Witch Trials happened in colonial Massachusetts between 1692 and 1693. During this event over 200 people were accused of being witches and the ones found guilty or would not confess were executed 20 people ended up being executed. The court finally admitted the trials were a mistake and compensated the families of those convicted (Blumberg). Before the witch trials Salem had a colorful history....   [tags: Salem witch trials, Witchcraft, The Crucible]

Strong Essays
2143 words (6.1 pages)

Essay on The Scottsboro Trials and To Kill A Mockingbird

- The Scottsboro Trial and the trial of Tom Robinson are almost identical in the forms of bias shown and the accusers that were persecuted. The bias is obvious and is shown throughout both cases, which took place in the same time period. Common parallels are seen through the time period that both trials have taken place in and those who were persecuted and why they were persecuted in the first place. The thought of "All blacks were liars, and all blacks are wrongdoers," was a major part of all of these trails....   [tags: Scottsboro Trials]

Strong Essays
1162 words (3.3 pages)

Trials Essay

- Trials “‘Isn’t it interesting, Stephen-san,” he said, “how sometimes you must cut away something in order to make it grow back stronger?... It may seem lonely and barren at first, only to flower again in the spring’” (193). Matsu relates human emotions to a tree: A gardener who wants strong, fruit-bearing trees will prune the tree annually. These trees will yield higher quality fruit and live significantly longer. In a similar fashion, Matsu shares his belief with Stephen that a person’s life needs to be “pruned” in order to let them become stronger and wiser....   [tags: Character Analysis]

Strong Essays
869 words (2.5 pages)