There are several ways in which to impeach a witness at trial. Here, because the proceedings are criminal in nature, we would be dealing with the federal rules of evidence and also the federal rules of criminal procedure. Impeachment tools such as opinion, reputation and specific Instances (Fed. Ru. Evid. 608), is based upon opinion or reputation testimony.
This type of evidence is only admissible after the character of the witness is attacked by evidence of any form. Here for example, since Ralph noted on his application that he never had an accident, his driving record could be introduced as evidence to impeach his testimony, the testimony being Ralph's application (which is considered to be a federal document because it is submitted to the port authority which is a government entity) and demonstrate that it was false, thus proving that Ralph has a propensity to lie. Furthermore, any witnesses on Ralph's behalf would be properly questioned in order to impeach Ralph's character for truthfulness as well. (Fed. Ru. Evid. 608).
It is true that Ed Norton would testify that Ralph is a great guy and a terrific friend, but he has no business or employment relationship with Ralph. It should be noted that Ed as a character witness will be questioned about specific instances of conduct on part of the Ralph as the principal witness to test his knowledge on Ralph's character. Thus Ed may be questioned on whether Ralph ever told him about his high school suspension. It must be noted that any defense attorney worth their salt would immediately object to the question if at the time of Ralph's arrest, the high school suspension was over ten years old. This rule applies if more than ten years has elapsed since the later date between the following: (1) the date of the conviction and (2) release of the witness from the confinement imposed for that conviction .
Here, it is true that Ralph was not convicted at the time his suspension for a crime related to it. One might first think that the suspension would not find its' way into trial however there are exceptions to this rule of evidence. Specific instances of misconduct that did not result in a conviction can be admitted for impeachment purposes if the scope of its admission is to demonstrate the witnesses character for truthfulness, in the discretion of the court the probative value of the question outweighs any prejudice to the defendant; the evidence is offered in good faith; the act has a direct bearing on the veracity of the witness with regards to the issues being litigated. It cannot be understated that extrinsic evidence of specific instances of prior bad acts is not permitted when their only relevance is to impeach the witnesses credibility. Thus, it appears that Ralph's high school suspension would be admitted at trial. It should be noted again that the trial court enjoys immense discretion so the ten year limitation may be construed by the court to apply to non convicted prior bad acts. For example, if Ralph is 25 at the time of trial, the suspension may be admitted, but if he is 35 at the time of trial, it most likely will not. Finally, we do not usually see this type of evidence offered unless the parties know each other.
Fed. Ru. Evid 613, applies to the prior inconsistent statements of a witness. Here, Ralph is prepared to testify that he never said "That could just as easily have been your head." In examining a witness