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Publication Citation

90 Indiana Law Journal Supplement 30 (2015)


During trial, a litigant can, of course, impeach a witness with certain criminal convictions. However, Indiana Evidence Rule 609(c), like its federal counterpart, prohibits parties from introducing such evidence when “the conviction has been the subject of a pardon, annulment, certificate of rehabilitation, or other equivalent procedure based on a finding that the person has been rehabilitated . . . .” Indiana, however, has no procedure for annulment or certificates of rehabilitation—and, until recently, had nothing resembling one.

To some fanfare, the General Assembly has recently enacted an expungement provision. As courts begin to grant these expungements, it is only a matter of time before their recipients will begin to testify.

Despite its intent, the expungement legislation fails to completely erase the past: litigants seeking to attack the witness’s credibility may legitimately unearth an expunged conviction. For example, they could personally know of the conviction, as would frequently occur in a domestic relations case. Or they could easily obtain the information online from services as innocuous as a local newspaper’s police blotter.5 Litigants with this knowledge will undoubtedly attempt to use it.