Evidence of criminal history admitted as probative of decedent’s earning capacity

Mollie Pawlosky  Iowa Commercial Litigation Dickinson Law Des Moines, Iowa

Posted on 09/20/2016 at 12:00 AM by Mollie Pawlosky

The Iowa Court of Appeals in Parker v. Shatek, No. 15-1287 (Sept. 14, 2016), affirmed the district court’s decision to allow into evidence information regarding the decedent’s criminal history. Parker was a wrongful death suit. Parker’s criminal history was relevant to the plaintiff’s calculation of economic damages, as criminal history could affect employability, future earnings and accumulation to the decedent’s estate. The probative value of the evidence was not outweighed by unfair prejudice, as the information was only discussed briefly, and no information was given regarding the underlying offense.

Litigants often consider using criminal history in a civil case, but sometimes struggle with how to use such information in a balanced and effective way. Parker illustrate a jury’s proper consideration of a decedent’s criminal history information in a wrongful death context. The defendants relied directly upon the decedent’s criminal past, but did not overreach in a way that the court likely would have held to be impermissible. For further information regarding evidentiary issues or litigation, contact Mollie Pawlosky.

The material in this blog is not intended, nor should it be construed or relied upon, as legal advice. Please consult with an attorney if specific legal information is needed.


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