Attempted Battery Assault in D.C. is a “Specific Intent” Offense

In law school and in preparing for the Bar Exam, we were taught the distinction between general intent and specific intent crimes. If it is a general intent offense, the government must prove only that the defendant intended… 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

What is a “Testimonial Statement” under Crawford v. Washington?

You know you are in trouble the moment the judge refers to “that Supreme Court case on confrontation.”  He adds: “Robinson I think it is called.” The judge is a highly respected senior judge.   Although you realize he… Read More

Longus v. U.S.: On Bias, Extrinsic Evidence, and the Collateral Fact Rule

Bias is “the powerful distorting effect on human testimony of the witness’s emotions or feelings towards the parties or the witness’ self-interest in the outcome of the case.”  That is McCormick on Evidence, and it is the clearest, most… Read More

Myers v. U.S.: What Is “Knowing” Possession Of A Firearm?

You buy a brand new axe. The axe is composed of two parts, a handle and a blade. You replace the handle after a couple of years and then the blade a year or two after that. The… Read More

Acta Exteriora Indicant Interiora Secreta

Today’s legal maxim is not particularly eloquent, in either Latin (acta exteriora indicant interiora secreta) or English (“outward acts indicate the thoughts hidden within”). But I include it today because it deals with intent, which is a key… Read More

Defining “Readily Available” in Clyburn v. U.S.

You can be sitting at work and “constructively possess” something tucked away in your bedroom closet at home. It is not whether you actually physically possess the piece of property at the time; it is whether you have… Read More

Once Again, No Consequences for Prosecutorial Misconduct

On the morning of trial, the prosecutor finds out that the testimony provided by a police officer at the preliminary hearing was inaccurate. Although the prosecutor himself is not planning to call this particular police officer to testify… Read More

Actus Me Invito Factus Non Est Meus Actus

After a guest post by my brother turned out to be one of the most popular pages on this site, I had hoped that the classics scholar was going to be a regular contributor on this site. Alas,… Read More