The following blog entry is written from a defendant’s position as trial approaches. Reviewing this kind of briefing should help potential plaintiffs and clients better understand how parties in personal injury cases present such issues to the court.
(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this car accident case and its proceedings.)
THE COURT SHOULD EXCLUDE EVIDENCE THE PROBATIVE VALUE OF WHICH IS SUBSTANTIALLY OUTWEIGHED BY ITS PREJUDICIAL IMPACT OR HAS THE RISK OF MISLEADING OR CONFUSING THE JURY
Evidence Code section 352 gives the Court discretion to exclude evidence if its admission will necessitate the undue consumption of time, or if its probative value is substantially outweighed by a substantial danger of undue prejudice, confusion of issues and misleading the jury. (Evidence Code §352.) Pursuant to Evidence Code section 352, the court should weigh the probative value of proffered evidence against the probability that it will create a substantial danger of undue prejudice. (People v. Murphy (1979) 8 Cal.3d 359.) If the Court finds that the probative value of the proffered evidence is weak and a danger of undue prejudice is strong, then it should rule that such evidence is inadmissible. (People v. Stanley (1967) 167 Cal.2d 812.) For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.
There are a number of different factors with which to determine the strength or weakness of the probative value of evidence. Among the factors which the court should consider are the following:
The strength of its relationship to the issue upon which it is offered;
Whether it goes to a main issue or merely a collateral one; and
Whether it is necessary to prove the proponents case or merely cumulative to other available and sufficient proof.
(Burke v. Almaden Vineyards, Inc. (1978) 86 Cal. App.2d 750.)
Among factors to be considered by the trial judge in exercising his discretion as to admission of a prior felony conviction for impeachment purposes, are its nearness or remoteness, its bearing on credibility, the similarity between the conduct on which the conviction rests and the conduct allege in the current case, and the effect of a refusal by defendant to testify resulting from his fear of impeachment by the conviction. (People v. Beagle (1972) 6 Cal.3d 441; People v Rist (1976) 16 C3d 211, 127 Cal Rptr 457, 545 P2d 833.)
There is no unqualified right under Evidence Code section 788 to impeach a witness with evidence of a prior felony conviction if, under modem standards, the trial court determines that the nature of the felony has no bearing whatever on credibility and that, under Evidence Code section 352 granting the trial judge discretion to exclude otherwise admissible evidence, the probative value of the impeachment evidence is substantially outweighed by the probability that its admission will create substantial danger of undue prejudice. (People v. Carr (1973) 32 Cal.App.3d 700.) The trial judge has greater latitude to to exclude evidence of prior felony convictions involving defendants than for other witnesses. (People v. Carr (1973) 32 Cal.App.3d 700.) (See Part 3 of 3.)
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.