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

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 –… Read More

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

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 –… Read More

Constructive Possession: Intent Required, Not Just Proximity and Knowledge

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… Read More

Lecture After Injury

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… Read More

Dorsey v. U.S.: “I Want to Speak to a Lawyer”

Although you might think that invoking your right to remain silent and invoking your right to a lawyer would have the same legal effect, you would be mistaken.  In fact, if ever forced to choose, you should always… Read More

Police Officers Are Not Superhuman

In some cases, you can understand the tremendous amount of deference that is accorded by courts to a police officer’s experience.  Only an experienced officer, for example, might know that a particular type of package is used to… Read More

Michigan v. Long Is Ripe for Reversal

Courts seem to be bending over backwards to avoid basing decisions on Arizona v. Gant. In an opinion issued last month by the D.C. Court of Appeals, for example, the defendant was pulled over for a minor traffic offense…. Read More

Jackson v. U.S.: Being Nervous Does Not Mean You Are Dangerous

And sometimes the D.C. Court of Appeals gets it right. A police officer sees a woman driving a van with what he believes are illegally tinted windows.  When he activates his lights for a traffic stop, the van… Read More

Henson v. US: Consensual Encounters and Unprovoked Flights under Henson v. U.S.

One of the problems with bad law is that it leads to even worse law. I have never been a big fan of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Illinois v. Wardlow, which held that being in a… Read More

Interpreting “Joint Constructive Possession” in Tamara Smith v. U.S.

If constructive possession is a legal fiction, then joint constructive possession is a double legal fiction. It is not only that you do not actually possess the article in question (and by actual possession, I mean physical occupancy… Read More