California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) (2017)

211. Prior Conviction of a Felony

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211.Prior Conviction of a Felony
You have heard that a witness in this trial has been convicted of a
felony. You were told about the conviction [only] to help you decide
whether you should believe the witness. [You also may consider the
evidence for the purpose of [specify].] You must not consider it for any
other purpose.
New September 2003; Revised December 2012
Directions for Use
Include the word “only” unless the court has admitted the evidence for some other
purpose, in which case, include the next-to-last sentence. For example, a prior
alcohol-related conviction might be relevant to show conscious disregard if the
claim involves conduct while under the influence.
Sources and Authority
• Admissibility of Evidence of Prior Felony Conviction. Evidence Code section
788.
The standards governing admissibility of prior convictions in civil cases are
different from those in criminal proceedings. In Robbins v. Wong (1994) 27
Cal.App.4th 261, 273 [32 Cal.Rptr.2d 337], the court observed: “Given the
significant distinctions between the rights enjoyed by criminal defendants and
civil litigants, and the diminished level of prejudice attendant to felony
impeachment in civil proceedings, it is not unreasonable to require different
standards of admissibility in civil and criminal cases.” (Id. at p. 273.)
In Robbins, the court concluded that article I, section 28(f) of the California
Constitution, as well as any Supreme Court cases on this topic in the criminal
arena, does not apply to civil cases. (Robbins, supra, 27 Cal.App.4th at p. 274.)
However, the court did hold that the trial court “may utilize such decisions to
formulate guidelines for the judicial weighing of probative value against
prejudicial effect under section 352.” (Ibid.)
Secondary Sources
3 Witkin, California Evidence (5th ed. 2012) Presentation at Trial, §§ 304, 306,
307, 320
48 California Forms of Pleading and Practice, Ch. 551, Trial, § 551.123 (Matthew
Bender)
1 Matthew Bender Practice Guide: California Trial and Post-Trial Civil Procedure,
Ch. 11, Questioning Witnesses and Objections, 11.64
California Judges Benchbook: Civil Proceedings—Trial (2d ed.) § 8.74 (Cal CJER
2010)
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