U.S. Capitol Building

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

Jamison Koehler Evidence, Legal Concepts/Principles, Opinions/Cases

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 doesn’t do many criminal cases, you are still somewhat taken aback by his comment. Robinson?  Are you kidding me? Standing there with …

Jefferson and Washington monuments

The Ethical Obligations of a Prosecutor

Jamison Koehler Professional Responsibility/Ethics

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 reasonably feasible, any evidence or information that the prosecutor knows or reasonably should know tends to negate the guilt of the accused …

U.S. Capitol Building

Checking The Rules. Checking Them Twice.

Jamison Koehler Criminal Procedure, Evidence, Law Practice, Professional Responsibility/Ethics

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 of situation before and, if so, how did you handle it? And so on. A major drawback to this ability, however, is …

Jefferson Memorial

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

Jamison Koehler Criminal Procedure, Legal Concepts/Principles, Opinions/Cases

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 – the one on which you were just found not guilty – serve as the basis for being found in violation of probation …

U.S. Capitol Building

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

Jamison Koehler DUI and Driving Offenses

  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 numbers and some pre-set generic language. There is no opportunity to cross-examine him. And yet the court can send the defendant away …

Jefferson and Washington monuments

A Letter of Apology After a Guilty Verdict

Jamison Koehler Criminal Procedure

  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 could be an important part of the rehabilitation process.  What I don’t understand is the need for an apology after the defendant …

D.C. skyline

Terry v. Ohio as a Seinfeld Episode

Jamison Koehler Criminal Procedure, Opinions/Cases

  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 close. It is not that Terry is my favorite case. After all, it expanded the scope of constitutionally permitted searches.  But, …

Jefferson Memorial

Why Police Officers Love the “Plain View” Exception

Jamison Koehler Criminal Procedure, Evidence, Legal Concepts/Principles

  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 eyes.  I immediately recognized it as contraband.  So I grabbed it. All the other exceptions are much more complicated, and the law …