By John DiMotto
This past week, I had the opportunity to present at the Wisconsin Judicial Criminal Evidence Workshop put on by the Office of Judicial Education. One of the presentations that I gave, with Judge Guy Dutcher of Waushara County, dealt with Impeachment and Rehabilitation Evidence in Wisconsin. It is a fascinating area of the law because at the heart of every case is the credibility of witnesses and the weight of evidence. Based on the material that we presented, today I am beginning a series concerning impeachment and rehabilitation evidence.
In any court proceeding, criminal or civil, the proponent of a proposition ordinarily has the burden of proof. In order to meet that burden, the proponent must bring forth evidence that is worthy of belief. The evidence is most often offered through the testimony of witnesses. Establishing the credibility of one's witnesses is essential. If those witnesses are deemed credible by the trier of fact, the proponent usually will meet his/her burden of proof and prevail.
The opponent to the proposition must challenge the the evidence proffered by the proponent if he/she hopes to defeat the proposition. The challenge comes via impeachment which comes in many forms. If the opponent is able to successfully impeach the proponent's evidence, the proponent will usually come forward with evidence to rehabilitate one's witnesses and evidence to defeat the challenge.
Impeachment evidence and rehabilitation evidence is offered to attack or enhance the credibility of witnesses and the weight of evidence. The areas of impeachment and rehabilitation that I will look at in my next series of blogs include:
1) Testimonial capacity
2) Bias, prejudice and Interest
3) Contradiction by other witnesses
4) Character Evidence - Truthfulness or Untruthfulness
5) Character Evidence - Good or Evil
6) Character Evidence - Expert testimony
7) Prior Criminal Record
8) Prior Inconsistent/Consistent Statements
9) Rebuttal Evidence
I hope you find this series interesting and enlightening.