Williams v. U.S.: Brandishing Knife in Self-Defense Not Excessive

You have the right to use a reasonable amount of force in self-defense assuming that (1) you actually believe that you are in imminent danger of bodily harm and (2) you have reasonable grounds for that belief. The… Read More

Holmes v. United States: Video-Assisted Testimony Not Hearsay

It was a creative argument.  But, not seeing it go very far, I was frankly surprised that the D.C. Court of Appeals devoted an entire opinion to it in Holmes v. United States, 92 A.3d 328 (D.C. 2014)…. Read More

Owens v. United States: The Standard for Defining State-of-Mind in an RSP Case is a Subjective One

In law school, we learned the difference between a subjective standard in defining a mental state and an objective one. The subjective standard focuses on the defendant’s actual state of mind. With the objective standard, it is how… Read More

Jacobs v. United States: Narrowing the Definition of “Seizure” in D.C.

You are sitting in a legally parked car on the side of the road minding your own business when a police car pulls in directly behind you and activates its overhead lights. How many people would feel that… Read More

Navarette v. California: Anonymous Tips, Reasonable Suspicion, and Car Stops

The state of the law with respect to reasonable suspicion, anonymous tips and car stops is already pretty muddy.  Now, with Navarette v. California, 572 U.S. ___ (2014), the Supreme Court has just made it worse. A woman… Read More

Refining the Definition of “Testimonial Evidence” under Crawford v. Washington

You take a worthwhile social goal – protecting domestic partners from abuse – and then you contort the U.S. Constitution to achieve that goal. In the days of Ohio v. Roberts, 448 U.S. 56 (1980), the testimony came in… Read More

The Duty to Disclose Includes the Duty to Preserve

Police officers fail to preserve a critical piece of evidence, in this case a video recording taken of the incident in question.  The defendant moves for sanctions.  In opposing this motion, the government argues that the defendant’s arguments… Read More

No Strong-Arming of Defendants Into Accepting Pleas

When the two defendants opted for trial, rejecting a deferred sentencing agreement that had been offered by the government, Judge Brian Holeman may have been doing them a favor when he warned them that they would face certain… Read More

Is Concession of Guilt In Opening Statement A Guilty Plea?

During the defendant’s opening statement at trial, Denardo Hopkins’ lawyer got up in front of the jury and conceded that this client was guilty of felony drug dealing charges.  The issue the D.C. Court of Appeals faced in… Read More

Adam Ortberg v. United States: Unlawful Entry Requires More Than “General Intent”

The common law distinction between “general intent” and “specific intent” offenses doesn’t work.  This is what the D.C. Court of Appeals emphasized once again in Adam Ortberg v. United States, 81 A.3d 303 (2013), a recent case dealing… Read More