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

U.S. Capitol Building

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

The Ethical Obligations of a Prosecutor

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According to Rule 3.8 of the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct, a prosecutor in a criminal case shall not: “[i]ntentionally fail to disclose to the defense, upon request and at a time when use by the defense is… Read More

Checking The Rules. Checking Them Twice.

U.S. Capitol Building

One of the things I miss most about working at the public defender’s office was the ability to get immediate feedback from colleagues on an issue. Do you know this judge or prosecutor? Have you faced this type… Read More

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

Jefferson Memorial

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

Withdrawing a Guilty Plea

  It is never easy to plead guilty. As the cliché goes, if you plead guilty, there is a 100% chance that you will be found guilty. Nobody likes to stand up in open court and admit to… Read More

Confronting the Silent Witness — the Breath Test Machine — in a DWI Case

U.S. Capitol Building

  The government vouches for him.  He himself doesn’t need to come to court, much less explain the basis for his conclusions.  His “testimony,” which is delivered through an interpreter, consists of nothing more than a couple of… Read More

A Letter of Apology After a Guilty Verdict

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  After finding my client guilty of simple assault, the judge orders my client to write a letter of apology to the complaining witness. I can understand an apology after a guilty plea.  After all, acknowledgment of remorse… Read More

Being Found Guilty After Pleading Guilty

  If you plead guilty, there is a 100% chance that you will be found guilty. Or something like that. I read that on the Internet a few weeks ago and, while I can’t remember who said it… Read More

Terry v. Ohio as a Seinfeld Episode

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  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… Read More

Why Police Officers Love the “Plain View” Exception

Jefferson Memorial

  Police officers love the “plain view” exception to the Fourth Amendment requirement for a warrant. It is because this exception is so straightforward and understandable:  I didn’t need a warrant because I saw it with my own… Read More