The DICT Development Group

Search for:
Search type:

Database copyright information
Server information

1 definition found
From Bouvier's Law Dictionary, Revised 6th Ed (1856) :

  CHARACTER, evidence. The opinion generally entertained of a person derived 
  from the common re 'port of the people who are acquainted with him. 3 Serg. 
  & R. 336; 3 Mass. 192; 3 Esp. C. 236. 
       2. There are three classes of cases on which the moral character and 
  conduct of a person in society may be used in proof before a jury, each 
  resting upon particular and distinct grounds. Such evidence is admissible, 
  1st. To afford a presumption that a particular party has not been guilty of 
  a criminal act. 2d. To affect the damages in particular cases, where their 
  amount depends on the character and conduct of any individual; and, 3d. To 
  impeach or confirm the veracity of a witness. 
       3.-1. Where the guilt of an accused party is doubtful, and the 
  character of the supposed agent is involved in the question, a presumption 
  of innocence arises from his former conduct in society, as evidenced by his 
  general character, since it is not probable that a person of known probity 
  and humanity, would commit a dishonest or outrageous act in the particular 
  instance. Such presumptions, however, are so remote from fact, and it is 
  frequently so difficult to estimate a person's real character, that 
  they are entitled to little weight, except in doubtful cases. Since the law 
  considers a presumption of this nature to be admissible, it is in principle 
  admissible 'Whenever a reasonable presumption arises from it, as to the fact 
  in question; in practice it is admitted whenever the character of the party 
  is involved in the issue. See 2 St. Tr. 1038 1 Coxes Rep. 424; 5 Serg. & R. 
  352 3 Bibb, R. 195; 2 Bibb, R. 286; 5 Day, R. 260; 5 Esp. C. 13; 3 Camp. C. 
  519; 1 Camp. C. 460; Str. R. 925. Tha. Cr. Cas. 230; 5 Port. 382. 
       4.-2. In some instances evidence in disparagement of character is 
  admissible, not in order to prove or disprove the commission of a particular 
  fact, but with a view to damages. In actions for criminal conversation with 
  the plaintiff's wife, evidence may be given of the wife's general bad 
  character, for want of chastity, and even of particular acts of adultery 
  committed by her, previous to her intercourse with the defendant. B. N. P. 
  27, 296; 12 Mod. 232; 3 Esp. C. 236. See 5 Munf. 10. In actions for slander 
  and libel, when the defendant has not justified, evidence of the plaintiff's 
  bad character has also been admitted. 3 Camp. C. 251; 1 M. & S. 284; 2 Esp. 
  C. 720; 2 Nott & M'Cord, 511; 1 Nott & M'Cord, 268; and see 11 Johns. R. 38; 
  1 Root, R. 449; 1 Johns. R. 46; 6 Penna. St. Rep. 170. The ground of 
  admitting such evidence is, that a person of disparaged fame is not entitled 
  to the same measure of damages with one whose character is unblemished. 
  When, however, the defendant justifies the slander, it seems to be doubtful 
  whether the evidence of reports as to the conduct and character of the 
  plaintiff can be received. See 1 M. & S. 286, n (a) 3 Mass. R. 553 1 Pick. 
  R. 19. When evidence is admitted touching the general character of a party, 
  it is manifest that it is to be confined to matters in reference to the 
  nature of the, charge against him. 2 Wend. 352. 
       5.-3. The party against whom a witness is called, may disprove the 
  fact& stated by him, or may examine other witnesses as to his general 
  character; but they will not be allowed to speak of particular facts or 
  parts of his conduct. B. N. P. 296. For example, evidence of the general 
  character of a prosecutrix for a rape, may be given, as that she was a 
  street walker; but evidence of specific acts of criminality cannot be 
  admitted. 3 Carr. & P. 589. The regular mode is to inquire whether the 
  witness under examination has the means of knowing the former witness 
  general character, and whether from such knowledge he would believe, him on 
  his oath. 4 St. Tr. 693; 4 Esp. C. 102. In answer to such evidence against 
  character, the other party may cross-examine the witness as to his means of 
  knowledge, and the grounds of his opinion; or he may attack such witness 
  general character, and by fresh evidence support the character of his own. 2 
  Stark. C. 151; Id. 241; St. Ev. pt. 4, 1753 to 1758; 1 Phil. Ev. 229. A 
  party cannot give evidence to confirm the good character of a witness, 
  unless his general character has been impugned by his antagonist. 9 Watts, 
  R. 124. See, in general, as to character, Phil. Ev. Index, tit. Character; 
  Stark. Ev. pl. 4, 364 Swift's Ev. 140 to 144 5 Ohio R. 227; Greenl. Ev. Sec. 
  54; 3 Hill, R. 178 Bouv. Inst. Index, h.t. 

Contact=webmaster@dict.org Specification=RFC 2229