Capsules 7-9A: Character Evidence

Capsules 7-9A address the law governing character evidence.  Capsule 7 introduces character evidence and the way this sort of reasoning by deduction is used at trial.  It also introduces the rule against bad character evidence in criminal trials.  Capsule 8 covers bad character evidence in criminal trials, including the similar fact evidence “rule”.  Capsule 9 addresses the rules governing the introduction of good character evidence.

As always, a few caveats:

  1. Needless to say, this is not legal advice.  It is designed to provide introductory explanations of certain topics in the law of evidence.
  2. These materials were designed for my students taking part in the Flipped Classroom – as such they are NOT supposed to be comprehensive or exhaustive of the subject.
  3. They were made with time constraints in mind.  There are errors throughout, and though I feel confident about the product generally, I did not attempt to correct every mistake made.  The goal was to put a good product together in a short period of time.
  4. Often, in the interests of time, certain points are generalized.  This doesn’t mean they’re “wrong”, but nuances are often fleshed out in the course materials or in class.  Rather than include caveats with every sentence, I sometimes make broad generalizations even though I’m aware there might be exceptions that can occasionally arise.  Again, the goal is to promote a generalized understanding that provides a platform for deeper learning.
  5. I will heartily disavow any attempt to rely upon these in conflict with another Professor, judge, lawyer, etc.  Thus, anyone who says “yes, but Professor Sankoff said X”… will receive no support from me!  Especially where exams are concerned, it is always good practice to follow your Professor’s view of the law.  If this material helps you, by all means use it, but do so with care.

Capsule 7 – Character Evidence

(This capsule, first created in 2013, was updated in July 2015 to include discussion of the use of third party suspect evidence).

Capsule 8 – Bad Character Evidence and the Accused in a Criminal Trial

I have also done a video blog touching on the use of similar fact evidence in a multi-count indictment where there is the potential of collusion between the witnesses.  To see that blog, click here. In addition, I’ve created a Supplemental Capsule to address particularly complex problems that arise when bad character evidence is advanced in a criminal trial.

Capsule 9A – Good Character Evidence

If this material helps you, please let me know with a comment or “like” below, or by sending me an email at

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