Jefferson Memorial

Coles v. U.S.: The Right to a “Meaningful Degree” of Cross-Examination

Jamison KoehlerCriminal Procedure, Evidence, Legal Concepts/Principles, Opinions/Cases

  Although the ability to cross-examine a witness is a critical component of the Sixth Amendment right to confront your accusers in a criminal case, this right is not without boundaries:  “Once sufficient cross-examination has occurred to satisfy the Sixth Amendment, . . . the trial judge may curtail cross-examination because of concerns of harassment, prejudice, confusion of the issues, …

D.C. skyline

Terry v. Ohio as a Seinfeld Episode

Jamison KoehlerCriminal Procedure, Opinions/Cases

  I have often said that you can explain everything in life through a Seinfeld episode. And while there is no single case that does for criminal law what Seinfeld does for life, Terry v. Ohio comes pretty darn close. It is not that Terry is my favorite case. After all, it expanded the scope of constitutionally permitted searches.  But, …

Jefferson Memorial

Why I Hate D.C.’s “Threats to do Bodily Harm” Statute

Jamison KoehlerAssault, Opinions/Cases

  Your client is 19 years old.  She weighs 105 pounds and stands under five feet tall. Having been arrested for a minor offense, she sits handcuffed in a room surrounded by police officers. Her eyebrow is bleeding from a cut she suffered from being thrown up against a chain link fence. All the police officers are male. They are …

U.S. Capitol Building

Blades v. U.S.: On Cross-Examination and Bias

Jamison KoehlerEvidence, Opinions/Cases

The right to cross-examine witnesses is one of the defendant’s most important trial rights.  And, among the areas for cross-examination, what could be more important than bias?  An inability to accurately perceive events could result in an honest mistake.  Bias suggests that the witness might be deliberately coloring the testimony. In Blades v. United States, 25 A.3d 39 (D.C. 2011), …

Jefferson and Washington monuments

In Re Gault: “Constitutional Domestication” of the Juvenile Justice System

Jamison KoehlerCriminal Procedure, Juveniles, Opinions/Cases

There are only a small number of criminal cases that all lawyers, even those who don’t practice criminal law, seem to know.  Although Miranda v. Arizona is probably the most famous, there is also Gideon v. Wainwright (right to counsel), Wong Sun v. United States (suppression of illegally obtained evidence), Crawford v. Washington (right to confrontation), and In Re Winship …

On Ashe v. Swenson: Double Jeopardy and Collateral Estoppel

Jamison KoehlerCriminal Procedure, Defenses to Criminal Charges, Legal Concepts/Principles, Opinions/Cases

Many laypersons suffer from misconceptions about the protections offered by the Double Jeopardy Clause contained in the 5th Amendment to the Constitution. As Blonde Justice pointed out in one of her funnier posts, for example, double jeopardy does not cover the situation in which the defendant is forced to show up twice for court appearances on the same charge.  Nor does …

Aerial view of DC

Quarles v. Commonwealth: Coerced Confessions in Virginia

Jamison KoehlerCriminal Procedure, Opinions/Cases

In Quarles v. Commonwealth, a recently issued opinion by the Virginia Court of Appeals, the court considered a set of facts similar to the U.S. Supreme Court case of Rhode Island v. Innis.  However, finding a number of ways to distinguish this case from Innis, it concluded that the defendant’s confession should have been suppressed as the product of police …

D.C. skyline

The “Collective Knowledge” Doctrine in D.C.

Jamison KoehlerEvidence, Opinions/Cases

  The firmly established “collective knowledge” doctrine in D.C. provides that, in determining whether the officers possessed sufficient knowledge to establish reasonable suspicion or probable cause for a search or seizure, it is not what any individual officer knows but what the officers know collectively, whether or not the information is actually communicated from one officer to another. At the …

Disorderly Conduct: D.C. Court Narrows The Scope

Jamison KoehlerDrug Offenses, Firearms/Weapons, Opinions/Cases, Other Criminal Offenses

  Disorderly conduct is a really annoying charge. The first problem is that the offense is usually so broad and poorly defined that it is too easy for police to charge and too easy for the government to prove at trial.  For example, since intent to cause a “public inconvenience” is a major element of the offense in Pennsylvania, the …