This morning’s jury trial began at 9:30 with the prosecutor’s opening statement. She gave hers, I gave mine, and she called her first witness. This was a domestic battery accusation, and witness number one was the accuser.
I was loaded for bear. I had photographs that contradicted her claim. I had certified copies of her felony convictions, and her convictions for crimes of dishonesty or false statement. I had two police reports documenting her use of an alias. I had copies of court documents in which she had claimed to have been in a mental hospital for treatment of ADHD. I had documents showing that they were involved in a custody lawsuit, which my client had filed. I had proof that my client had obtained a restraining order against her the day before the accusation was made.
I began my cross-examination by focusing her attention: “Let’s start by talking about the things we agree on,” I said.
“OK,” said she.
“We can agree that you are a convicted felon,” I began, with a shot across her bow.
Pointing at my client, she replied, “So is he!”
It is fair game to impeach a witness with his or her felony convictions. The rules of evidence say so. If an accused person takes the stand and testifies, the same rules apply to him. But unless an accused person becomes a witness in a criminal trial, his prior record does not become part of the case.
I was out of the courthouse before 10:00.