Rule 608. A Witness’s Character for Truthfulness or Untruthfulness

 

(a)      Reputation or Opinion Evidence. A witness’s credibility may be attacked or supported by testimony about the witness’s reputation for having a character for truthfulness or untruthfulness, or by testimony in the form of an opinion about that character. But evidence of truthful character is admissible only after the witness’s character for truthfulness has been attacked.

 

(b)      Specific Instances of Conduct. Except for a criminal conviction under Rule 609, extrinsic evidence is not admissible to prove specific instances of a witness’s conduct in order to attack or support the witness’s character for truthfulness. But the court may, on cross-examination, allow them to be inquired into if they are probative of the character for truthfulness or untruthfulness of:

 

(1)   the witness; or

 

(2)   another witness whose character the witness being cross-examined has testified about.

 

By testifying on another matter, a witness does not waive any privilege against self-incrimination for testimony that relates only to the witness’s character for truthfulness.

 

(c)      Evidence of Bias. Bias, prejudice or any motive to misrepresent may be shown to impeach the witness either by examination of the witness or by other evidence.

 

 

2011 Advisory Committee Note. – The language of this rule has been amended as part of the restyling of the Evidence Rules to make them more easily understood and to make style and terminology consistent throughout the rules. These changes are intended to be stylistic only. There is no intent to change any result in any ruling on evidence admissibility.

 

ADVISORY COMMITTEE NOTE

 

This amendment is in order to be consistent with changes made to the Federal Rule.

 

Subdivisions (a) and (b) are the federal rule, verbatim, and are comparable to Rules 22 and 6, Utah Rules of Evidence (1971), except to the extent that Subdivision (a) limits such evidence to credibility for truthfulness or untruthfulness. Rule 22(c), Utah Rules of Evidence (1971) allowed a broader attack on the character of a witness as to truth, honesty and integrity.

 

This rule should be read in conjunction with Rule 405. Subdivision (b) allows, in the discretion of the court on cross-examination, inquiry into specific instances of the witness's conduct relative to his character for truthfulness or untruthfulness or specific instances of conduct of a person as to whom the witness has provided character testimony. See, State v. Adams, 26 Utah 2d 377, 489 P.2d 1191 (1971). Attack upon a witness's credibility by specific instances of character other than conviction of a crime is inadmissible under current Utah law. Cf. Bullock v. Ungricht, 538 P.2d 190 (Utah 1975); Rule 47, Utah Rules of Evidence (1971). Allowing cross-examination of a witness as to specific instances affecting character for truthfulness is new to Utah practice and in accord with the decision in Michelson v. United States, 335 U.S. 469 (1948). The cross-examination of a character witness as to specific instances of conduct which the character witness may have heard about concerning the person whose character is placed in evidence has been sanctioned by a prior decision, State v. Watts, 639 P.2d 158 (Utah 1981).

 

The rule is subject to a witness invoking the statutory privilege against degradation contained in Utah Code Annotated, Section 78-24-9 (1953). See, In re Peterson, 15 Utah 2d 27, 386 P.2d 726 (1963). The privilege, however, may be subject to limitation to accommodate an accused's right of confrontation. Cf. Davis v. Alaska, 415 U.S. 308 (1974).

 

Subdivision (c) is Rule 608(c), Military Rules of Evidence, verbatim.