A definition I found is "A leaning toward one side of a cause for some reason other than a conviction of its justice." Does prejudice in this context mean "injustice" rather than "justice"? Does it mean that "proper" evidence which shows that a defendant did what is alleged in NOT prejudicial to the defendant? So, evidence of a fact is not "prejudicial" to a defendant if it is limited to proving what a plaintiff alleges, even if it leads to the defendant being found liable of what they are accused of?
California Evidence Code section 352 provides:
"The court in its discretion may exclude evidence if its
probative value is substantially outweighed by the probability that
its admission will (a) necessitate undue consumption of time or (b)
create substantial danger of undue prejudice, of confusing the
issues, or of misleading the jury."
“Prejudice” as contemplated by Evidence Code section 352 is not so sweeping as to include any evidence the opponent finds inconvenient. Evidence is not prejudicial merely because it undermines the opponent's position or shores up that of the proponent. (People v. Doolin (2009) 45 Cal.4th 390, 438.)
The “prejudice” referred to in Evidence Code section 352 applies to evidence which uniquely tends to evoke an emotional bias against the defendant as an individual and which has very little effect on the issues.
Past criminal conduct involving moral turpitude that has some logical bearing on the veracity of a witness in a criminal proceeding is admissible to impeach, subject to the court's discretion under Evidence Code section 352.” (People v. Harris (2005) 37 Cal.4th 310, 337.)
Frank W. Chen is licensed to practice law in the State of California. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.
Prejudice is an interesting word. It can be used to describe all sorts of things and usually it means something bad. But in describing evidence, prejudicial does not mean simply bad. Evidence that tends to prove the elements of a crime or civil wrong is not prejudicial, it is relevant. Evidence is prejudicial if its purpose is not to prove the crime or civil wrong but to prove something else that might make a jury tend to believe the crime or civil wrong without relevant evidence, or if it is so damning that it tends to usurp the relevant evidence.
A classic example of prejudicial evidence is a post-remedial measure. Let's say the plaintiff sued the defendant after the plaintiff tripped and fell in a parking lot full of pot holes. After the plaintiff fell, the defendant fixed the parking lot. Usually, the evidence of the defendant's repair is not admissible as a post remedial measure. The only reason the plaintiff wants it in is to use it as an admission that there was something wrong with the parking lot. But public policy dictates that we want people to repair damaged property--as a consequence (except in certain situations) judges will conclude that the post remedial conduct is more prejudicial than probative.
Attorney Chen has indicated another example where there is often a fight about prejudice, that is, prior bad acts including criminal conduct.
Whether something is more prejudicial than probative is very factually dependent, and as such it is left to the sound discretion of the trial court to determine.
I am licensed only in California and this response is provided as general information only. It is not intended to be legal advice. Legal advice must be based on the exact facts of the particular situation, and by necessity this forum is not appropriate for discussion of specific, exact facts. Contact a lawyer for more specific advice. My answer to your question on AVVO does not create an attorney-client relationship.
Years licensed, work experience, educationLegal community recognition
Peer endorsements, associations, awardsLegal thought leadership
Publications, speaking engagementsDiscipline