Legal Concepts/Principles

Refining the Definition of “Testimonial Evidence” under Crawford v. Washington

March 20, 2014 Evidence

You take a worthwhile social goal – protecting domestic partners from abuse – and then you contort the U.S. Constitution to achieve that goal. In the days of Ohio v. Roberts, 448 U.S. 56 (1980), the testimony came in as long as it was reliable.  There was no need for the complainant to appear when a […]

Read the full article →

The Duty to Disclose Includes the Duty to Preserve

February 12, 2014 Evidence

Police officers fail to preserve a critical piece of evidence, in this case a video recording taken of the incident in question.  The defendant moves for sanctions.  In opposing this motion, the government argues that the defendant’s arguments about what the recording contained is speculative.  The court agrees. Am I missing something here?  Without the […]

Read the full article →

Why The Truth Doesn’t Matter At Trial

October 31, 2013 Legal Concepts/Principles

Over at Windy Pundit, Mark Draughn and Jeff Gamso engage in an interesting discussion about what constitutes a fact for the purposes of a criminal trial.  I have similar problems with the notion of truth. One of my favorite episodes from the old T.V. show “All In The Family” involved a situation in which an […]

Read the full article →

McCormick on Evidence: Do the Exclusionary Rules Deter Illegal Conduct?

April 25, 2013 Evidence

McCormick on Evidence first points out that you should avoid referring to  ”the exclusionary rule” in the singular: Discussions sometimes assume the existence of “the exclusionary rule,” suggesting that there is only one remedial requirement involved. This is unfortunate and misleading. Litigation and discussion is often dominated by considerations of the Supreme Court’s construction of […]

Read the full article →

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, […]

Read the full article →

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 […]

Read the full article →

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 […]

Read the full article →

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 […]

Read the full article →

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 […]

Read the full article →

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.” […]

Read the full article →