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Boston College Law School

Criminal cases

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"He Looks Guilty": Reforming Good Character Evidence To Undercut The Presumption Of Guilt., Josephine Ross Jun 2004

"He Looks Guilty": Reforming Good Character Evidence To Undercut The Presumption Of Guilt., Josephine Ross

Boston College Law School Faculty Papers

Juries often use short-cuts to determine the character of the accused, such as their job, age, race, gender, marital status, or what the person looks like. These short-cuts often substitute for character evidence in courtrooms across the United States, adding to the divide in the criminal justice system today. This problem provides a lens to examine the character evidence rules and how they are implemented. Rules governing good and bad character evidence themselves have been turned on their head. A defendant’s right to put in good character has been called “deeply imbedded in our jurisprudence.” Nevertheless, the rules currently ...