Characteristics of Soulless Persons: The Applicability of the Character Evidence Rule to Corporations
Susanna M. Kim | 2000 U. Ill. L. Rev.
Under Federal Rule of Evidence 404, the character evidence rule, it is well established that evidence of character generally is not admissible to show that a person acted in conformity with that charac-ter on a particular occasion. No consensus exists, however, as to whether the character evidence rule should also apply to corpora-tions.
In this article, Professor Kim argues that the ban on character evidence should not be extended to corporations. Professor Kim be-gins with a discussion of various rationales offered to support the character evidence rule, emphasizing Kantian conceptions of human autonomy. She then examines varying definitions of "character" and concludes that character may best be regarded as a reflection of the internal operating system of the human organism. Next, Professor Kim turns to an analysis of the personhood of corporations and de-termines that corporations are persons and moral actors with the ca-pacity to possess character. This corporate character is separate and apart from the character of the corporation's individual members and reflects the internal operating system of the corporate organization.
Finally, Professor Kim suggests that the human autonomy ra-tionale for the character evidence rule does not apply with equal force to corporations. She then concludes with an examination of the prac-tical implications of excluding corporations from the protections af-forded individuals under Rule 404.
* Associate Professor of Law, Chapman University School of Law. B.A., Stanford University. J.D., UCLA School of Law.