Arthur Fuggett, et al.
Kristen Marie Aronowicz
Submitted: June 20, 2017
P. Cline, Esq. David P. Cline, P.A.
Michael A. Pedicone, Esq. Heckler & Frabizzio
before me are two motions in limine regarding the
admissibility for impeachment purposes of the plaintiffs past
criminal convictions. The parties sought a ruling on these
motions as promptly as possible, although trial has been
postponed until June 2018. The motions present a singular issue:
whether the probative value of the past convictions,
supported by specific facts and circumstances, substantially
outweighs the prejudicial effect of the convictions'
admission into evidence.
is an automobile accident case in which the parties'
disputes center on causation and damages. The plaintiff,
Arthur Fuggett, was convicted of two crimes that the
defendant, Kristin Aronowicz, seeks to admit into evidence at
trial to impeach Fuggett under Delaware Rule of Evidence 609:
(1) a conviction for Theft by Deception in 1994 (the
"Theft Conviction"); and (2) a conviction for
Escape After Conviction on November 20, 2007 (the
was convicted of both crimes more than 10 years before the
date of trial, which is scheduled to begin on June 11,
2018. The parties therefore agree that, under
Delaware Rule of Evidence 609 ("Rule 609"),
evidence of the convictions is not admissible "unless
the [C]ourt determines, in the interests of justice, that the
probative value of the conviction supported by specific facts
and circumstances substantially outweighs its prejudicial
argues Fuggett's credibility is "absolutely the most
critical aspect of his personal injury claim" because
Fuggett's alleged injuries and his medical experts'
opinions largely rely on his subjective
complaints. Credibility, however, is crucial in most
trials, and subjective complaints are common in personal
injury actions. Rule 609 nonetheless presumes that
convictions older than 10 years are not admissible and
requires the proponent of such evidence to provide
"specific facts and circumstances" supporting a
conclusion that the probative value of such evidence
substantially outweighs the risk of prejudice.
has not offered any specific facts and circumstances about
these convictions. As to the Theft Conviction, Aronowicz
described what she contends are the facts underlying the 1994
conviction, but did not provide any record citation or
support for that factual description, or even a hint as to
where that description was obtained. Fuggett objected to this
unsupported narrative of the charged crime. As to the Escape
Conviction, Aronowicz provided neither a factual recitation
nor record support for the events underlying that conviction.
This Court cannot perform the balancing test required by Rule
609(b) without such a record. Because Aronowicz has offered no
specific facts and circumstances from which this Court could
determine that the probative value of the convictions
substantially outweighs the prejudicial effect of their
admission into evidence, the convictions are not admissible
under Rule 609(b).
foregoing reasons, Fuggett's Motion in Limine to
Prohibit Aronowicz from Referring to Arthur Fuggett's
Theft Conviction is GRANTED and Aronowicz's Motion in
Limine to Admit Evidence of Fuggett's Escape
Conviction is DENIED. IT IS SO ORDERED.
ABIGAIL M. LEGROW Judge