Washington Law Review


This comment describes current Washington law on the use of criminal convictions to impeach the testimony of criminal defendants and examines the factors which are relevant to the formation of a more acceptable rule. Adoption of the proposed rule would also affect the rules for impeaching nondefendant witnesses. Only a criminal defendant, however, is in jeopardy of actually being convicted as a result of a jury's misuse of evidence of prior convictions. Because the interests of the criminal defendant witness will be so drastically affected by the prior conviction rule which the Washington Supreme Court ultimately adopts, this comment will focus on how Proposed Rule of Evidence 609 would change such a defendant's rights. This comment concludes that Proposed Rule 609 is a considerable improvement over the present Washington rule, but that certain modifications would be desirable. Finally, because the Washington Supreme Court's adoption of Proposed Rule 609 would indicate its intent to adopt existing federal law, a critique of federal cases in which Federal Rule 609 has been applied is offered.

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