T3BE – Question
Andrew: Alright Thomas, a defendant was charged with the crime of defrauding the federal agency where he had worked as an accountant.
Andrew: At trial, the court allowed the defendant to call his supervisor at the large corporation where he had previously worked, who testified about the defendant’s good reputation in the community for honesty.
Andrew: Over objection, the defendant then sought to elicit testimony from his former supervisor that on several occasions the corporation had, without incident, entrusted him with large sums of money.
Andrew: Should that testimony be admitted?
Thomas: Over objection. Interesting.
Andrew: So brings on the corporation, they testify as to his good reputation for honesty-
Andrew: Then he says “isn’t it true that you’ve entrusted me with a large amount of money?” Should the testimony be admitted? A) No, because the testimony is extrinsic evidence on a collateral matter;
Andrew: B) No, because good character cannot be proved by specific instances of conduct unless character is an essential element of the charge or defense;
Andrew: C) Yes, because it is evidence of a pertinent character trait offered by an accused; or D) Yes, because it is relevant to whether the defendant was likely to have taken money as charged in this case.
Thomas: So I feel like – I mean, we’re allowing a character witness at all, that seems fine. I actually don’t see why this would be a problem to say also, as part of this character witness, as part of testifying about the reputation and honesty, we had entrusted the defendant to large sums of money without incident. I don’t really see why that would be a problem if the first part isn’t. I’m kinda leaning towards a yes, the testimony should be admitted, I don’t really see a good reason why it shouldn’t.
Going through the answers, A, no because the testimony is extrinsic evidence on a collateral matter. I don’t really think that’s – I mean I guess that could be a good no answer if no is the right answer but I don’t know.
B, no because good character cannot be proved by specific instances of conduct unless character is an essential element of the charge or defense. But it seems like it is, here. You’re allowing a character witness, so yeah, that’s why I’m a little confused here. How else would you testify – it would be a weird rule if you could testify to someone’s character and say “yes they’re honest,” and then they’re like “but can you give any specific examples?” Objection! [Laughs] You’re allowed to say they’re honest but you’re not allowed to give specific examples. Seems weird, doesn’t seem right to me.
C, yes because it is evidence of a pertinent character trait offered by an accused. That’s the answer that I am going with.
And D, yes because it is relevant to whether the defendant was likely to have taken money as charged in this case. Gosh, you know I think we had an early question along these lines. I feel like D is definitely not right because it’s not really relevant; I think that’s when it’s not allowed, when it’s used as evidence as to whether or not they’ve taken money in this case, but it is allowed if it’s just for character purposes, I think? I hope that’s right or maybe I got that wrong last time and it’s the opposite.
I don’t know, but I’m going with C, final answer. If I were to eliminate two, I would say B and … well I’ll go A and B. I think this should be allowed. I don’t like D, but I’m going with C, final answer.
Andrew: Alright. If you wanna play along with Thomas, you know how to do that. Just share out this episode on social media, include the hashtag #T3BE. Include your guess, your reasons therefore, we will pick a winner and shower that winner with never ending fame and fortune! Fame and fortune not guaranteed.
Thomas: Alright, thanks for listening and reminder, if you sign onto that patreon you get a bonus extra here at the end. Go do that. Thanks for listening, everybody, we’ll see you next time!