Criminal Procedure

Bronx Prosecutor Castigated for Withholding Exculpatory Evidence

April 8, 2014 Criminal Procedure

According to the New York Daily News, a prosecutor in the Bronx failed to turn over exculpatory information to the defense in a rape case.  The evidence in question was an initial statement by the accuser that the sex had been consensual. The statement was not disclosed until after the defendant sat in jail for […]

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Is Concession of Guilt In Opening Statement A Guilty Plea?

January 31, 2014 Criminal Procedure

During the defendant’s opening statement at trial, Denardo Hopkins’ lawyer got up in front of the jury and conceded that this client was guilty of felony drug dealing charges.  The issue the D.C. Court of Appeals faced in Hopkins v. United States, __ A.3d __ (D.C. 2014), was this:  Did this admission constitute a guilty […]

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Let Me Talk To The Judge

December 4, 2013 Criminal Procedure

Whenever a group of defendants are lined up before the court to do misdemeanor guilty pleas, one or two will often try to back out at the last minute. If the defendant is quibbling with something the prosecutor has just read from the police report, the parties can usually find common ground on facts that […]

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On the Crucible of Cross-Examination

April 11, 2013 Criminal Procedure

It happens perhaps most often in domestic violence cases that the complainant fails to show up on the morning of trial. The government would have you believe this is because the complainant fears for his/her safety, and this might sometimes be true. More often, it is because the complainant has reconsidered having the lover, spouse, […]

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Young v. U.S.: The Confrontation Clause Is Still Alive In D.C.

April 4, 2013 Criminal Procedure

The U.S. Supreme Court has made such a mess of the Confrontation Clause line of cases that the D.C. Court of Appeals declared today that it really doesn’t know what to do. So it decided to do the right thing instead. In Robert Young v. United States, 63 A.3d 1033 (D.C. 2013), the D.C. Court […]

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Further Guidance on Significant Bodily Injury in Quintanilla v. U.S.

March 25, 2013 Criminal Procedure

The D.C. Court of Appeals took another step last week in defining what up until recently has been a poorly defined term:  the “significant bodily injury” that is required in order for the government to prove felony assault. Although the appellant in Fidel Quintanilla v. United States, 62 A.3d 1261 (D.C. 2013), was convicted of […]

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Haye v. U.S.: Unlawful Entry, Criminal Contempt, Double Jeopardy, and Prior Bad Acts

March 24, 2013 Criminal Procedure

When people talk about evidence being admitted at trial, they tend to think in terms of physical evidence:  guns, drugs, documents, fingerprints, DNA, that type of thing. Sometimes you need to remind them that oral testimony alone – someone getting up on the stand and testifying to what he or she saw – can also […]

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D.C. Court of Appeals on “Furtive Gestures”

March 16, 2013 Criminal Procedure

Sometimes you need to go outside your own jurisdiction to find the right language in support of an argument.  For years I have been looking for language that captures the problems — the ambiguity and the over-inclusiveness – posed by use of the police officer’s favorite catch-all phrase, “furtive gestures.”  Today I found what is […]

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Constructive Possession: Intent Required, Not Just Proximity and Knowledge

March 14, 2013 Criminal Procedure

That a controlled substance can be possessed constructively as well as actually is a court-made decision. As Judge Ruiz put it in her concurring opinion to Rivas v. United States, 783 A.2d 125 (D.C. 2005), the “doctrine of constructive possession is a judicially developed theory of liability designed to be a ‘proxy’ for actual possession.” […]

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Lecture After Injury

March 7, 2013 Criminal Procedure

The government dismisses the charges on the morning of trial, but this doesn’t stop the judge from lecturing my client:  “I hope you have learned your lesson from this,” she tells him. Although it may not be the lesson the judge was referring to, my client did learn at least three things from this experience: […]

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