The ABCs of “Character Evidence” in a D.C. Criminal Case

Over 65 years ago, Justice Robert H. Jackson, writing for the U.S. Supreme Court in Michelson v. United States, 335 U.S. 469 (1948), complained about the “helpful but illogical options” available to a defendant attempting to introduce evidence… Read More

Morgan v. U.S.: Inconsistent Evidence at Trial and “Show Cause” Hearing

One of the things that surprised me when I first began to practice criminal law was the notion that you could be acquitted of a particular offense at trial and then have that very same criminal charge –… Read More

Simms v. U.S.: On the Pre-Trial Presumption of Prosecutorial Vindictiveness

David Simms was charged with possession of marijuana. On the day of his scheduled trial, the government announced that it was ready to proceed on the charge. Defense counsel stated it was still awaiting discovery on a few… Read More

Constitutionality of D.C.’s “Post-and-Forfeit” Statute Upheld

Know your rights. But be judicious about asserting them. That’s what I always tell people. Don’t go picking unnecessary fights with police officers. And don’t go bringing stupid lawsuits.  No matter how good a lawyer you think you are. Hamilton… Read More

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

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… Read More

Terry v. Ohio as a Seinfeld Episode

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… Read More

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

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… Read More

In Favor of a Virginia Jury Instruction on “Knowing and Intentional” Possession

My client is a convicted felon. He knows that it is illegal for him to possess a firearm. He lends his ex-wife his car.  She returns it to him after a couple of days but accidentally leaves behind… Read More

English v. United States: Aiding and Abetting Flight in a Motor Vehicle

Darnell Anderson was the passenger in a car involved in a shooting.  The car sped away at high speed when police arrived at the scene.  Anderson continued to flee on foot even after the car was stopped.  The… Read More

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

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… Read More