Can I use defendant’s conviction...?
I use defendant’s conviction of traffic charge from auto wreck as proof
of same offense and liability in ensuing civil action. I want to argue
issue of his liability has already been determined under a higher burden of
proof than in my civil action?
The traffic conviction (as opposed to a plea of
guilty, admissible as an admission) cannot be shown. See: O’Neal v.
Joy Ind. School Dist., 1991 OK 118, 820 P.2d 1334, 1336: “Absent
some exception to the settled rule, evidence of a prior conviction for a minor
offense may not be admitted into evidence in a subsequent civil action arising from
the same facts and circumstances in the face of a timely objection.”
The rationale is that one doesn’t have the same motivation to
litigate vigorously a traffic ticket as you do a civil action or a serious
crime. It would be unfair to bind someone in a multi-thousand dollar
civil case from a failure to vigorously defend a $200 fine in a traffic case.
Posted on Tue, November 24, 2009
by Sharon Coleman