The “Rule of Lenity” in D.C.

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According to the “Rule of Lenity,” a court should construe any ambiguity in the language of a criminal statute in favor of the defendant.

On the “Claim of Right” Defense in D.C.

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Although “claim of right” is a valid defense to robbery and other theft offenses, the defense fails when the defendant takes more than the property whose ownership is in question.

The “forfeiture-by-wrongdoing” doctrine in Hairston

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Under the ‘forfeiture-by-wrongdoing doctrine, a defendant forfeits his Sixth Amendment right to be confronted by a witness against him, as well as his objection to the introduction of hearsay, if he wrongfully procured the unavailability of that witness with the purpose of preventing the witness from testifying.

Bias and corruption in Jones v. US

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Bias can be “a favorable or friendly feeling toward a party.” It can also be hostility toward someone, a motive to lie out of self-interest, and/or corruption.

On Judicial Notice and Mejia-Cortez

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Although a court may take “judicial notice” of commonly known facts, the government must still prove every element of a criminal offense beyond a reasonable doubt.

On the right to testify in Graves v. U.S.

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It is reversible error for the trial judge to prohibit the defendant from testifying that he was acting in self-defense when the court had already concluded that the arresting officer had not used excessive force.

On the “missing evidence” jury instruction in Howard v. US

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Like “reading the white space” on a police report (that is, focusing on what is NOT included), the “missing evidence” jury instruction “essentially creates evidence from non-evidence.”

Clearing/sealing/expunging a criminal record

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Everything you need to know about clearing, expunging or sealing your criminal record in anticipation of background check for employment, adoption, immigration, volunteer opportunity or gun license.

When it Comes To Self-Defense, it is the Immediacy of the Response Needed, Not the Immediacy of the Threat

Words in the law do not always mean what their dictionary definitions say they mean. With respect to a prior consistent statement, for example, it is not really, as suggested by the rule, that such a statement must… Read More

Judicial Notice: The Difference Between “Legislative” and “Adjudicative” Facts

A court accepts a well-known and indisputable fact without taking the time and trouble of requiring a party to prove it.  What could be more straightforward, more commonsensical, than that?  As McCormick puts it, the “oldest and plainest… Read More