Domestic Diversions

Declining modification of prior bad acts rule

The Justices action on 2001-51 – Proposed Amendment of Rule 404 of the Michigan Rules of Evidence provides an interesting diversity in approaches to the problem of domestic violence prosecutions, including wedges between usual allies.

Excerpts:
Kelly: I am unwilling to modify MRE 404 for only one class of crime victims.

Taylor: The rules at issue often are not popular rules, and to champion them, especially when the blood is up to jettison them to accomplish so much good, is to invite misunderstanding, but this is what judges have always been required to do.

Young: [R]ules of evidence are stubborn things, characteristically frustrating to those who are committed to the idea that more expeditious trial processes would lead to convictions of those they belive to be guilty of crimes.

Corrigan: I recognize that this rule has ancient origins, but a trend has begun to emerge in some states treating evidence of prior acts of domestic violence as an exception to the general ban on propensity evidence.

Weaver: I would adopt proposal A . . . .

Markman: The starting principle of our criminal justice system should be that, consistent with the constitution and due process of law, a complete picture of the available evidence will be presented to the jury.


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