I have an upcoming murder case that is fairly strong, so I don't want to do something that is risky as far as creating potential error on appeal, but I have a default judgment from 2 years ago against this defendant in a wrongful death action and a signed and notarized waiver of notice and appearance in a custody suit involving the defendant's daughter. As for the wrongful death judgment, I would like to use it to show she had an opportunity to contest the allegations but did not. Not sure if that would violate a right to remain silent or anything else. As for the waiver of notice and appearance in the custody case, it may go to a defense that she didn't kill her husband for his assets, but that she was afraid he would get custody in the divorce. I do expect the defendant to testify, the defense has told me as much and she has to testify to have any chance in my opinion in this case. Appreciate anyone's thoughts about the admissibility of these documents.
I would be hesitant to use the wrongful death one if the only purpose is to show that she didn't contest the allegations. I think that skirts dangerously close to Fifth Amendment issues. If you had another justification for it, I think you could use it, but if that's the only one, I'd be nervous.
The custody stuff sounds relevant to rebut a defensive theory, so as long as you wait until they've actually raised the issue (probably while cross-examining her), I don't see why you couldn't use it.
No, there is no other reason to enter the default judgment in the wrongful death case. And yes, I was thinking about confronting her while on cross about the waiver after she raises the issue. Thank you.
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