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A Philosophy of Evidence LawJustice in the Search for Truth$
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H. L. Ho

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199228300

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199228300.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 02 March 2021

Similar Fact Evidence

Similar Fact Evidence

(p.285) 6 Similar Fact Evidence
A Philosophy of Evidence Law


Oxford University Press

The similar facts rule imposes ethical constraints on deliberation at a trial. In criminal cases, it protects the integrity of a guilty verdict by forbidding the fact-finder from reasoning that the accused is guilty because his past shows that he is the sort of person who cannot help committing the kind of crime in question. The court must not use the inference of propensity from the accused's previous misconduct directly against him as that would be dismissive of his moral autonomy. It can be used only indirectly, as evidence of his motivational disposition, to support an explanation of his action that is already suggested by other sufficiently strong evidence. The rule is less strictly applied in civil cases because the ethical problem is not as pressing in that context, and there is also countervailing pressure to admit the evidence in the civil litigation that is absent in criminal cases.

Keywords:   reasoning, guilt, ethics, deliberation, character, previous misconduct, disposition, propensity, autonomy

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