Further Guidance on Significant Bodily Injury in Quintanilla v. U.S.

The D.C. Court of Appeals took another step last week in defining what up until recently has been a poorly defined term:  the “significant bodily injury” that is required in order for the government to prove felony assault…. Read More

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

Happy Birthday to Gideon: On the Arrogance of Public Defenders

At the Defender Association of Philadelphia, the office policy in multi-defendant cases was to represent the defendant with the most serious charges, the worst fact pattern, and the worst legal posture. The other defendants would then be farmed… 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

Lee v. United States: Mistaken Jury Instructions on the “Defense of Others”

The D.C. Court of Appeals was apparently feeling charitable. In Adrian Lee v. United States, 61 A.3d 655 (D.C. 2013), a decision issued last week, the Court bent over backwards to justify and explain mistaken jury instructions issued… Read More

Motive, Intent, Identity, and Absence of Mistake Under Drew

One of the disadvantages to practicing law in D.C. is that the courts here do not use the Federal Rules of Evidence (FRE). You can’t just consult the text of a particular rule and then the case law… Read More

In Re K.A.: The “Quantum of Independent Evidence” Needed to Corroborate a Confession

The corpus delicti rule has always been one of my favorite legal doctrines. It is not just that the rule is in Latin, although that never hurts. It is not that the rule dates back centuries, although that… 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

Harrison v. U.S.: Reasonable Doubt Through Too Many “Interconnected Inferences”

Yes, they record your personal phone calls from prison. Yes, they have someone listen to those tapes. And, yes, they sometimes find something on those tapes to use against you. There is usually a voice recording that periodically… Read More