Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Evidence Codification and Non-Codification in Connecticut

Evidence codification has an unusual status in Connecticut. In a case said [in Westlaw's text] to be decided on August 19, 2008 -- in State v. DeJesus --- A.2d ----, 2008 WL 3290164 (2008) -- the Supreme Court of Connecticut writes [will write?]:

"With respect to the defendant's appeal, we conclude that, despite the adoption of the code [of evidence] by the judges of the Superior Court, the appellate courts of this state retain the authority to develop and change the rules of evidence through case-by-case common-law adjudication."

&&&

"We agree with the defendant that the adoption of the code did not divest this court of its inherent common-law adjudicative authority to develop and change the rules of evidence on a case-by-case basis. We further agree with the defendant that, in light of our recent clarification of the nature and scope of the common scheme or plan exception in State v. Randolph, supra, 284 Conn. at 328, evidence of uncharged misconduct admitted under the liberal standard ordinarily does not reflect the existence of a genuine plan in the defendant's mind. Nonetheless, given the highly secretive, aberrant and frequently compulsive nature of sex crimes, we conclude that the admission of uncharged misconduct evidence under the liberal standard is warranted and, therefore, we adopt this standard as a limited exception to § 4-5(a) of the code, which prohibits the admission of "[e]vidence of other crimes, wrongs or acts of a person ... to prove the bad character or criminal tendencies of that person."

&&&

"The foregoing history [of the adoption of the code of evidence by the judges of Connecticut's Superior Courts] does not support the conclusion, however, that the code was intended to divest this court of its inherent authority to change and develop the law of evidence through case-by-case common-law adjudication."

&&&

"There was no discussion of the effect, if any, that adoption of the code would have upon this court's common-law adjudicative authority to change and develop evidentiary law on a case-by-case basis, an inherent authority that it has enjoyed since the seventeenth century.

...

"In the absence of any discussion at the meeting of the judges of the Superior Court concerning the impact that adoption of the code would have on the future development of evidentiary law, it is illogical to conclude that, by adopting the code for the purposes of ease and convenience, the judges intended to divest this court of its long-standing inherent common-law adjudicative authority over evidentiary law." &&&

In a footnote the Supreme Court dealt with the question whether Connecticut's code of evidence prevents Connecticut's trial judges from changing rules of evidence in case-by-case adjudication:

"FN24. Because the code merely restated the prevailing common-law evidentiary rules, which the judges of the Superior Court already were bound to apply, and was intended to expedite and streamline judicial proceedings by serving as a shorthand reference to those rules, the code clearly was intended to be binding authority in the Superior Court. Section 1-1(b) of the code specifically states that '[t]he [c]ode applies to all proceedings in the superior court in which facts in dispute are found, except as otherwise provided by the [c]ode, the General Statutes or the Practice Book.' The code therefore differs fundamentally from a treatise or handbook, which has persuasive value only. The question presented in this appeal, however, is not whether the code is binding authority in the Superior Court, but, rather, whether it is binding authority in this court such that we are precluded from reconsidering our own prior precedent codified in the code. For the reasons explained in the body of this opinion, we conclude that the judges of the Superior Court did not intend their adoption of the code to divest this court of its inherent authority to change and develop the law of evidence via case-by-case common-law adjudication."

the dynamic evidence page

consulting on investigation strategy and the law of evidence

Post a Comment