Mason v. U.S.: When Is A Prior Consistent Statement Admissible?

U.S. Capitol Building

I love appellate cases on evidentiary issues – which the D.C. Court of Appeals seems to be doing a lot lately — because they allow me to take out my handy-dandy McCormick on Evidence guide. According to McCormick, there… Read More

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

U.S. Capitol building

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

D.C. v. Loftus: Operating On A Suspended License Is A Strict Liability Offense

Driving without a license has long been a strict liability offense in D.C. That is, in order to secure a conviction for this offense, the government need only prove that you didn’t have a driver’s license at the… Read More

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

Jefferson Memorial

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

Enforcing Brady v. Maryland: Toward An “Open File” Discovery Requirement

U.S. Capitol building

A constitutional right without any way of enforcing that constitutional right is hardly any right at all.  That’s a pretty accurate description of the government’s obligations under the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution and Brady v…. Read More

Wynn v. U.S.: Further Clarification of “Obstruction of Justice” in D.C.

U.S. Capitol Building

A person is guilty of obstruction of justice in D.C. if that person “corruptly or by threats of force” obstructs or impedes — or attempts to obstruct or impede — “the due administration of justice in any official… Read More

Same Standard, Different Penalties for Drinking-and-Driving in DC

D.C. Superior Court judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys have traditionally treated the criminal offense of Operating While Impaired (OWI) as if it were a lesser-included offense of Driving Under The Influence (DUI).  Although a specific standard for OWI… Read More

Interpreting Arizona v. Gant’s “Reasonable Belief” Standard for Warrantless Car Searches

D.C. skyline

In Arizona v. Gant, the U.S. Supreme Court helped slow a continuing trend in the chipping away of Fourth Amendment protections. For years, most jurisdictions allowed police officers to search any car whose occupants had been arrested, even when… Read More