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§ 904.04, Character Evidence – “Pertinent Trait” and Relevance

State v. Glenn E. Davis, 2002 WI 75, reversing and remanding 2001 WI App 210247 Wis. 2d 917, 634 N.W.2d 922
For Davis: James M. Shellow


¶16. The rules on character evidence and expert testimony allow for the admissibility of Richard A.P. evidence. Under our rules of evidence, a defendant may introduce “pertinent trait[s]” of his or her character as evidence. Wis. Stat. § 904.04(1)(a). “Pertinent” refers to the relevance of the traits. 7 Daniel Blinka, Wisconsin Practice: Wisconsin Evidence § 404.4, at 133 (2d ed. 2001). Thus, like all admissible evidence, character evidence must be relevant to the facts at issue. Relevancy has two facets: (1) the evidence must relate to a fact or proposition that is of consequence to the determination of the action and (2) the evidence must have probative value, that is, a tendency to establish those consequential propositions. Id. at § 401.1 at 82. A defendant may introduce such relevant character evidence through opinion testimony. Wis. Stat. § 904.05(1).

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