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Stroud v. Cook

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Brief Fact Summary. The plaintiff and defendant were in a traffic accident. The plaintiff admitted a record of the defendant’s misdemeanor conviction for failure to use due care in operation of his vehicle.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. A record of a misdemeanor conviction is not admissible under the Federal Rule of Evidence (“FRE”) Rule 802 because it is not a felony, but it could still be admitted under FRE Rule 803(8) as a public record.

Points of Law - Legal Principles in this Case for Law Students.

Where a state evidence rule is intimately bound up with the rights and obligations being asserted, Erie mandates the application of a state rule in a diversity suit.

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Facts. The defendant was cited for failure to use due care in operating his vehicle right before he was in a traffic accident with the plaintiff. The plaintiff wanted to introduce the conviction record to prove the defendant’s negligence.

Issue. Whether a misdemeanor conviction can be admitted as evidence?

Held. The misdemeanor conviction can be admitted as evidence as a public record. In this case, it is admissible under FRE Rule 803(8) as a public record, or it is admissible under state law evidentiary rules.

Discussion. FRE Rule 802 restricts non-felony convictions because they are less reliable. Parties are not as motivated to prove their innocence to the extent they would if it was a felony. The point is moot if the court allows the misdemeanor under the public records exception.

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