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Criminal Jury Instructions

Criminal Jury Instructions Home

2.4-3  Impeachment -- Inconsistent Statements

Revised to November 1, 2008

Evidence has been presented that a witness, <insert name of witness>, made [a] statement[s] outside of court that (is/are) inconsistent with (his/her) trial testimony.  You should consider this evidence only as it relates to the credibility of the witness's testimony, not as substantive evidence.  In other words, consider such evidence as you would any other evidence of inconsistent conduct in determining the weight to be given to the testimony of the witness in court.

[<Include if appropriate:>  The law treats an omission in a prior statement as an inconsistent statement.]

Commentary

Inconsistencies are not limited to diametrically opposed statements, but include omissions and denials of recollection.  State v. Simpson, 286 Conn. 634, 649 (2008).

The court is not required to give a specific instruction concerning inconsistent statements when the inconsistencies are not substantial and do not relate to a material matter.  State v. Herring, 55 Conn. App. 522, 526 (1999), cert. denied, 252 Conn. 941 (2000).

If the attorneys have not laid the proper foundation prior to introducing the inconsistent statement, the court may decline to limit the use of the inconsistent statement to impeachment.  "Absent a limiting instruction, the jury was free to take the [witness'] prior inconsistent statement as true."  (Internal quotation marks omitted.)  State v. Stevenson, 53 Conn. App. 551, 560 n.8, cert. denied, 250 Conn. 917 (1999); State v. Correia, 33 Conn. App. 457, 462, cert. denied, 229 Conn. 911, cert. denied, 513 U.S. 898, 115 S.Ct. 253, 130 L.Ed.2d 174 (1994).  See Tait's Handbook of Connecticut Evidence § 6.35 (3rd ed. 2001) for a discussion of the foundation necessary to admit inconsistent statements for impeachment purposes.

This instruction should be tailored to the evidence of the case.   See State v. Ramirez, 94 Conn. App. 812, 823-25 (2006) (the court did not improperly marshal the evidence by pointing out inconsistencies in testimony because it reminded the jury that credibility was up to them).
 


 

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