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D went to trial on charges of theft. According to the prosecution, D—a bartender at a bar called Firma—stole over $800 in cash from the cash register one Friday night.
The key prosecution witness against D was D’s supervisor, W. On direct examination, W testified that the gross receipts from the Friday night in question were more than $800 below average for that night of the week. W also testified that the shortfall was entirely on the cash side; the credit card receipts were on par with the average for Friday nights. W stated that he saw D “hovering over the cash register” after closing time, when most of the employees had gone home. This struck W as odd, because D was not responsible for reconciling the cash register at the end of the evening.
On cross-examination, the defense attorney planned to begin by asking W if it was true that W had been convicted of filing a false police report 11 years ago. However, the prosecutor had been prepared for this line of cross-examination, having been alerted in advance of trial by a letter from the defense lawyer, and brought a pre-trial motion in limine to block this line of questioning. The trial judge granted the motion.
D elected to take the stand and denied stealing money from the cash register. The prosecutor started cross-examination by asking D if it was true that D had been convicted of felony assault (a crime punishable under state law by more than year in prison) eight years ago. The trial judge overruled the defense lawyer’s objection, and D admitted it was true.