Calvert was engaged in a scheme where he obtained key man
[business] and accidental death insurance on a business partner
and then caused the business partner's death for the purpose of
obtaining the proceeds. Subsequently, defendant was convicted of
mail fraud, fraud by wire, and conspiring to commit mail fraud.
Government introduced evidence that the Df had previously
collected on two other insurance policies under similar
Court said this evidence was admissible.
Other act evidence is ONLY admissible if the trial court
determines that the jury could reasonably find that the actor
committed the act by a preponderance of the evidence.
Judge must determine that
The evidence is relevant for a
purpose other than showing the
character or disposition of the defendant,
The proof that the acts were
committed by the defendant is "clear
and convincing," and
The probative value of the evidence
outweighs the danger of prejudice
to the defendant.
If the evidence is admitted, the
court should give a limiting
instruction, informing the jury of the narrow purpose
for which it has been admitted.
Three dangers in the presentation of "other crimes" evidence
First, it is feared that a jury
might overestimate the probative value of such
evidence by assuming that merely because the defendant has
committed crimes before, he is
likely to be guilty of the offense charged.
Second, is the recognized tendency
of men to punish a bad man now that he has been
caught, even though his guilt on this occasion has not been
Finally, it is felt that it is unfair to require a defendant to
defend against and disprove crimes for which he has never been
charged or indicted.