In the case of the United States versus Jorge Cedeno, the trial judge prevented Cedeno’s lawyer from questioning a detective about the fact that he had lied (and been caught lying) in a prior court proceeding in an unrelated case.
The trial judge prevented such questioning after considering:
1. Whether the prior judicial finding addressed the detective’s honesty in that specific case or generally; and
2. Whether the two sets of testimony involved a similar subject.
The court of appeals disagreed with the trial judge, however, concluding that he should have also considered such things as:
- Whether the lie was under oath in a judicial proceeding or was made in a less formal setting;
- Whether the lie was about a matter that was important or trivial;
- How much time had gone by since the lie was told;
- Whether there had been any intervening credibility determination regarding the witness;
- The apparent motive for the lie and whether a similar motive existed in the current proceeding; and
- Whether the witness offered an explanation for the lie and, if so, whether his explanation was plausible.