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N.J. Proposes 10-year Bar on Prior Crimes Evidence - State v. Harris

Per The New Jersey Law Journal:

"A state Supreme Court committee is recommending adoption of a rule that would make it harder to use evidence of past convictions to impeach a criminal defendant's credibility.

"Revised N.J. Rule of Evidence 609 would bar introduction of evidence of convictions more than 10 years old unless the court determines that its probative value outweighs its prejudicial effect. The 10-year period would run from date of conviction or of release from confinement, whichever is later.

"The rule currently provides that evidence of any witness' conviction of a crime is admissible 'unless excluded by the judge as remote or for other causes.'

"The proposal, by the Committee on the Rules of Evidence, is subject to public comment on or before May 1.

"It stems from the Supreme Court's 4-3 decision, in State v. Harris, 209 N.J. 431 (2012), that a trial judge did not abuse his discretion when he said prosecutors could use 13-year-old drug convictions to impeach the credibility of a defendant charged with robbery and burglary. Derrick Harris chose not to testify and was convicted."

More after the jump...