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Character evidence, both positive and negative, can influence decisions made by judges and juries. This question deals with evidence of the violent character of an alleged victim. This issue often arises in self-defense cases.

An exception to the rule forbidding character evidence to prove conduct applies to homicide and assault cases where it is difficult to determine the aggressor. This exception allows the accused to introduce evidence indicating the violent character of the victim.

Based on the above information, answer the following questions:

  • Examine if and how violent character can be proved.
  • If your lawyer represents a client who proves the adversary party’s bad character, what steps would you and your lawyer take to prepare your client for self-defense?
  • What moral issues may arise while representing an accused who wants to prove someone else as evil?
  • Find the rule of evidence, and analyze the risk such a provision creates.

Support your arguments with at least one relevant case.

This question concerns character and reputation evidence in a self-defense case. Be sure to cite the appropriate rule or rules of evidence and provide rationales for the court’s decision.

Jack Hyde is being prosecuted for murder. He wants Keith to testify that often in the past, he saw Hyde act as a peaceful person who remained in control even in situations where others might have been physically violent. Keith had seen Hyde being hit in the face. To Keith’s surprise, Hyde did not punch back but smiled and walked away.

The State objects to Keith’s testimony. Describe what the court’s ruling might be to such an objection.

Assume that the court overruled the State’s objection. In response, the State wants Noah to testify that once he saw Hyde being slapped. Hyde reacted by taking a knife from under his jacket, had cut the assailant’s arm, and kicked him. Hyde objects to Noah’s testimony. Explain the court ruling regarding such testimony as evidence.

Assume that the court overrules Hyde’s objection to this evidence. Examine reasons for the court’s decision.

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