In another good ruling the New Jersey Supreme Court has held that prosecutor’s cannot impeach a defendant on cross-examine with their prior use of aliases.
The Court made this ruling in the case State v. Parker which was decided last week. In Parker the defendant took the stand and the prosecutor questioned him regarding his use of two different names.
The State argued that it could be used as extrinsic evidence to impeach the defendant under evidence rule 607.
At trial the prosecutor argued that the fact that the defendant used aliases showed that the defendant’s testimony was false and that he was not innocent of the charges for which he was on trial for.
The Supreme Court rejected that argument, overturning the appellate division decision which affirmed the conviction. The esteemed Court held that the use of such evidence is strictly prohibited under evidence rules 405(a) and 608.
The Court did however rule that if the defendant had used aliases in connection with a crime such as identity fraud or to evade prosecution than such prior use of aliases might be admissible.
This is a good ruling on many levels since many indictments will include a/k/a which put the defendant in a bad light. Although many judges will exclude such information when reading the indictment to the jury, other judges do not. Further,many people are given aliases or "a/k/a" through no fault of their own, such as police mistakes, marriage, divorce, and errors in reporting through credit reporting agencies, etc.
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January 22, 2014