Dorsey v. U.S.: “I Want to Speak to a Lawyer”

Jefferson Memorial

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

Michigan v. Long Is Ripe for Reversal

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Courts seem to be bending over backwards to avoid basing decisions on Arizona v. Gant. In an opinion issued last month by the D.C. Court of Appeals, for example, the defendant was pulled over for a minor traffic offense…. Read More

Jackson v. U.S.: Being Nervous Does Not Mean You Are Dangerous

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And sometimes the D.C. Court of Appeals gets it right. A police officer sees a woman driving a van with what he believes are illegally tinted windows.  When he activates his lights for a traffic stop, the van… Read More

Henson v. US: Consensual Encounters and Unprovoked Flights under Henson v. U.S.

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One of the problems with bad law is that it leads to even worse law. I have never been a big fan of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Illinois v. Wardlow, which held that being in a… Read More

Interpreting “Joint Constructive Possession” in Tamara Smith v. U.S.

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If constructive possession is a legal fiction, then joint constructive possession is a double legal fiction. It is not only that you do not actually possess the article in question (and by actual possession, I mean physical occupancy… Read More

On Getting Your Own Witness Locked Up

Jefferson Memorial

  I put our star witness in jail. I have heard about prosecutors being slammed for doing this. One of my adjunct professors in law school – a prosecutor in Philadelphia – ended up on someone’s list of… Read More

What is a “Testimonial Statement” under Crawford v. Washington?

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You know you are in trouble the moment the judge refers to “that Supreme Court case on confrontation.”  He adds: “Robinson I think it is called.” The judge is a highly respected senior judge.   Although you realize he… Read More

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

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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

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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