United States v. Wong
703 F.2d 65 (1983)

  • Wong was arrested and charged with mail fraud.
  • At trial, the prosecution attempted to introduce evidence of Wong’s two prior convictions for fraud during cross-examination.
    • Wong objected on the grounds that the evidence of prior convictions was too prejudicial and therefore inadmissible under FRE 609.
  • The Trial Judge allowed it evidence to be admitted.
    • The Trial Judge agreed that the probative value of the convictions did not outweigh their prejudicial effect.
    • However, the trial court found that the balancing test is only required under FRE 609(a)(1).  In this case, the evidence was admissible under FRE 609(a)(2), which requires no balancing test.
  • The Trial Court found Wong guilty of mail fraud.  He appealed.
    • Wong argued that even though FRE 609(a)(2) doesn’t explicitly mention a balancing test, one should be performed based on FRE 403.
  • The Appellate Court affirmed.
    • The Appellate Court found that FRE 403 was not designed to override other parts of the FRE, it was only to be used in situations where no specific rule had been formulated.
    • The Appellate Court looked to the legislative history and found that Congress spent a considerable amount of time toying with the words of FRE 609, and therefore the omission of the balancing test for FRE 609(a)(2) was intentional.