EvidenceProf Blog

Editor: Colin Miller
Univ. of South Carolina School of Law

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

It's So Juvenile: Minnesota Case Reveals Difference Between Minnesota And Federal Rule Of Evidence 609(d)

Federal Rule of Evidence 609(d) indicates that

Evidence of juvenile adjudications is generally not admissible under this rule. The court may, however, in a criminal case allow evidence of a juvenile adjudication of a witness other than the accused if conviction of the offense would be admissible to attack the credibility of an adult and the court is satisfied that admission in evidence is necessary for a fair determination of the issue of guilt or innocence.

Minnesota Rule of Evidence 609(d), however, is different, and that difference made all the difference for the defendant in State v. Bishop, 2009 WL 1750631 (Minn.App. 2009). 

In Bishop, Elmer Bishop appealed from his first and second degree assault convictions, claiming, inter alia, that that the prosecutor wrongfully failed to disclose evidence of the victm's prior juvenile adjudication for possession of a dangerous weapon on school grounds. Bishop claimed that if the prosecutor disclosed this adjudication to him, he could have used it to impeach the testimony of the victim at trial

And, if his case were being heard under the Federal Rules of Evidence, he might have been right. As noted above, he could have used the juvenile adjudication to impeach the victim under Federal Rule of Evidence 609(d) if he could have established that the offense underlying that adjudication was be admissible to attack the credibility of an adult and that its admission was necessary for a fair determination of the issue of guilt or innocence.

But Bishop's case was heard under the Minnesota Rules of Evidence, and Minnesota Rule of Evidence 609(d) indicates that

Evidence of juvenile adjudications is not admissible under this rule unless permitted by statute or required by the state or federal constitution.  

Because no statute or constitutional provision applied, Bishop was not entitled to impeach the victim through his juvenile adjudication, the prosecution did not err in failing to disclose that adjudication, and the Court of Appeals of Minnesota affirmed Bishop's convictions.

-CM

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/evidenceprof/2009/06/609dstate-of-minnesota-respondent-v-elmer-bishop-appellant-and-elmer----nw2d------2009-wl-1750631minnapp2009.html

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