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Moral Character of Parties in Civil Cases


Sec. 51. Character evidence not generally admissible; exceptions: —

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(b) In Civil Cases:

Evidence of the moral character of a party in civil case is admissible only when pertinent to the issue of character involved in the case.

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NOTES:

When is evidence of moral character of a party in civil case admissible?

Evidence of the moral character of a party in civil case is admissible only when pertinent to the issue of character involved in the case. For example, in civil actions for damages arising from the offenses of libel, slander or seduction.  


What is the reason for the rule?

The reason for the rule is that in civil cases evidence of character has a remote bearing as proof to show that wrongful acts have or have not been committed. (Wright vs McKee, 27 Vt. 161)


Illustration:

P filed an action against D for breach of promise of marriage. D may justify the breach upon the ground that he discovered P to be a loose and immodest woman, and therefore he refused to marry her. Where bad character is relied on as a complete defense, and is pleaded, it becomes one of the main facts in issue. As such, evidence must be allowed to show it. (McKelvey on Evidence)

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