Good character is admissible

Despite Congress’s meddling with certain rules of evidence as a way to ensure convictions in sexual assault cases, we should consider that in almost every sexual assault case good character evidence will in fact be admissible and have a role.

We are constrained to sustain the assignments which complain of the exclusion of testimony offered to show defendant’s general reputation for truth and veracity. It is not necessary to cite authorities to show that, in criminal prosecutions, the accused will be allowed to call witnesses to show that his character was such as would make it unlikely that he would be guilty of the particular crime with which he is charged. . .  the evidence was admissible, whether or not the defendant himself testified.

Edgington v. United States, 164 U.S. 361 (1896).

Further, it is quite likely, especially with Air Force cases, that the government will persist in loading up Article 134, UCMJ, charges – adultery being the most common one in alleged rape cases.  Well, an element of an Article 134, UCMJ, clause (1) or (2) allegation is proof that the accused’s conduct was inimical to good order and discipline.  The accused may offer good military character as a specific character trait directed toward this element of the charge.

 

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