“Extraneous Offenses” And Fair Trials

Excellent overview of how “extraneous offense” or “prior bad act” evidence is eroding our Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial.  Now that it has become routine to offer such evidence (even if the defendant was never convicted, charged or even arrested or even if the “bad act” is not a crime at all), the State can shore up weak cases and use such accusations strategically to make the defendant think long and hard before taking the stand in his or her own defense.  In some cases I have tried, the majority of the actual case was taken up with such evidence, instead of the crime the defendant was actually charged with.

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