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    Character Evidence in American Courts

    Number of Pages: 4


    Summary of the research paper:

    In four pages this research essay considers how the accused's character affects the rules of evidence in US courts of law. One source is cited in the bibliography.

    Name of Research Paper File: D0_khchevi.rtf

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    Unformatted Sample Text from the Research Paper:
    the other hand, in many cases, the prosecution is prohibited by the court from establishing the converse, i.e. that a defendant has in the past had a bad reputation, so  that the alleged crime would not be out of character. This has been particularly offensive when the accused was released and immediately committed a similar offense, often of a sexual  nature. In discussing this disparity, the student researching this paper should, first of all, understand the orientation of American jurisprudence. From the inception of this country, American law  has been predicated on the premise that a citizen is innocent until proven guilty. There is a well known story, which may be apocryphal, that Thomas Jefferson said that he  would rather ten guilty men go free, then one innocent man be falsely accused. Therefore, the rules of court evidence are still structured so that, while their primary purpose is  to indicate the guilt of the defendant, they also are designed to protect the rights of the accused. Before discussing further whether or not detrimental character evidence  should be admitted in US courts, the student should first become aware of what, precisely, is the law regarding evidence of this nature. Swift (2000) states that James Bradley Thayer  is largely responsible for the direction that evidence law reform has taken over the last one hundred years. To Thayer and his contemporaries, extending the judges discretion to either  admit or exclude evidence meant freeing this decision from the burden of the common law system of appellate court precedent, which controlled through detailed rules of law, the outcomes in  a large number of cases (Swift, 2000). Thayer advocated that evidence law should consist of principles, rather then detailed rules, so that judge could have more discretion over what 

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