Opinions/Cases

Saidi v. U.S.: No Special Findings in Defense-of-Property Case

March 3, 2015 Defenses to Criminal Charges

You are allowed to use a reasonable amount of force to protect property.  This is true “regardless of any actual or threatened injury to the property by the trespasser.”  Moreover, upon timely request with sufficient clarity for special findings under D.C. Rule of Criminal Procedure 23(c), “the trial judge must articulate findings specific to all […]

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Gayden v. U.S.: Interpreting the “Resist” and “Intimidate” Provisions of D.C.’s APO Statute

February 7, 2015 Assault

In Cheeks v. United States, a case issued a couple of months ago, the D.C. Court of Appeals interpreted the “interfere” provision of D.C.’s Assault of a Police Officer (APO) statute.  (It is illegal under this statute to assault, resist, oppose, impede, interfere with or intimidate a police officer who is performing his official duties, […]

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Cheek v. U.S.: Interpreting the “Interfere” Language of D.C.’s APO Statute

November 20, 2014 Assault

The Assault on a Police Officer (APO) statute is so broad that the D.C. Court of Appeals has had to issue multiple opinions to interpret it.  In Edwin Cheek v. United States, 103 A.3d 1019 (D.C. 2014), an opinion it issued today, it interpreted that portion of the law that makes it illegal to “interfere” […]

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Worthy v. United States: The DCCA on Prior Consistent Statements

October 23, 2014 Evidence

Just because you repeat something over and over does not make it true.  Nor are you permitted to “bolster” your own witness. A “prior consistent statement” – a witness’ previous statement that is consistent with something the witness testifies to while on the stand – is generally inadmissible.  If it is an out-of-court statement offered […]

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Judge Easterly Lets The Facts Speak For Themselves In Damning the Government for Brady Violations

August 1, 2014 Evidence

You suspect it happens all the time:  the prosecutor withholds exculpatory information from the defendant, thereby preventing the defendant from mounting an effective defense.  The problem is that, with the government in sole possession of all the information, you have no way of proving it. And then there is Vaughn v. United States, 93 A.3d […]

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Williams v. U.S.: Brandishing Knife in Self-Defense Not Excessive

June 8, 2014 Opinions/Cases

You have the right to use a reasonable amount of force in self-defense assuming that (1) you actually believe that you are in imminent danger of bodily harm and (2) you have reasonable grounds for that belief. The question is not whether the use of force appeared to be necessary when looking back on the […]

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Holmes v. United States: Video-Assisted Testimony Not Hearsay

June 6, 2014 Evidence

It was a creative argument.  But, not seeing it go very far, I was frankly surprised that the D.C. Court of Appeals devoted an entire opinion to it in Holmes v. United States, 92 A.3d 328 (D.C. 2014). Marvin Holmes was convicted of stealing two shirts from the Saks Fifth Avenue store in Friendship Heights. […]

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Owens v. United States: The Standard for Defining State-of-Mind in an RSP Case is a Subjective One

June 6, 2014 Opinions/Cases

In law school, we learned the difference between a subjective standard in defining a mental state and an objective one. The subjective standard focuses on the defendant’s actual state of mind. With the objective standard, it is how a reasonable person in the same position would feel. Most criminal statutes seem to use the objective […]

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Jacobs v. United States: Narrowing the Definition of “Seizure” in D.C.

May 31, 2014 Legal Concepts/Principles

You are sitting in a legally parked car on the side of the road minding your own business when a police car pulls in directly behind you and activates its overhead lights. How many people would feel that they were perfectly free to drive away at this point?  Anybody?  Anybody at all? Because this is […]

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Navarette v. California: Anonymous Tips, Reasonable Suspicion, and Car Stops

April 23, 2014 Opinions/Cases

The state of the law with respect to reasonable suspicion, anonymous tips and car stops is already pretty muddy.  Now, with Navarette v. California, 572 U.S. ___ (2014), the Supreme Court has just made it worse. A woman calls 911 to report another car for running her off the road. The woman provides the time […]

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