Saturday, June 27, 2009
It's So Juvenile: Minnesota Case Reveals Difference Between Minnesota And Federal Rule Of Evidence 609(d)
Federal Rule of Evidence 609(d) indicates that
Evidence of juvenile adjudications is generally not admissible under this rule. The court may, however, in a criminal case allow evidence of a juvenile adjudication of a witness other than the accused if conviction of the offense would be admissible to attack the credibility of an adult and the court is satisfied that admission in evidence is necessary for a fair determination of the issue of guilt or innocence.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Juror's Curiosity Killed The Verdict: Court Of Appeals Of Arkansas Upholds Granting Of New Trial Based Upon Juror's Accident Scene Visit
Upon an inquiry into the validity of a verdict or indictment, a juror may not testify as to any matter or statement occurring during the course of the jury's deliberations or to the effect of anything upon his or any other juror's mind or emotions as influencing him to asset [assent] to or dissent from the verdict or indictment or concerning his mental processes in connection therewith, nor may his affidavit or evidence of any statement by him concerning a matter about which he would be precluded from testifying be received, but a juror may testify on the questions whether extraneous prejudicial information was improperly brought to the jury's attention or whether any outside influence was improperly brought to bear upon any juror.
And, as the recent opinion of the Court of Appeals of Arkansas in Campbell v. Hankins, 2009 WL 1685164 (Ark.App. 2009), makes clear, when a juror, against the judge's instructions, visits the accident/crime scene and relays what he saw to the other jurors, what he saw is extraneous prejudicial information which forms the proper predicate for jury impeachment.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Chicken Little Or Canary In The Coal Mine, Take 2: Professor Friedman's Initial Reaction To Melendez-Diaz
Chicken Little Or Canary In The Coal Mine?: Supreme Court Finally Issues Opinion In Melendez-Diaz, Finding Certificates Of State Laboratory Analysts To Be "Testimonial"
Today, the Supreme Court finally decided Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, finding in a 5-4 vote that certificates of state laboratory analysts were "testimonial" and thus covered by the Confrontation Clause. And, if you believe Justice Kennedy, the result of the decision will be the sky falling on many criminal prosecutions; if you believe Justice Scalia, Justice Kennedy is Chicken Little.
Alternate Ending: Supreme Court Of Indiana Opinion Reveals That Indiana Courts Consider Alternate Juror (Mis)Behavior An Improper Outside Influence For Jury Impeachment Purposes
Upon an inquiry into the validity of a verdict or indictment, a juror may not testify as to any matter or statement occurring during the course of the jury's deliberations or to the effect of anything upon that or any other juror's mind or emotions as influencing the juror to assent to or dissent from the verdict or indictment or concerning the juror's mental processes in connection therewith, except that a juror may testify (1) to drug or alcohol use by any juror, (2) on the question of whether extraneous prejudicial information was improperly brought to the jury's attention or (3) whether any outside influence was improperly brought to bear upon any juror. A juror's affidavit or evidence of any statement by the juror concerning a matter about which the juror would be precluded from testifying may not be received for these purposes.
(Federal Rule of Evidence 606(b) does not allow jurors to impeach their verdicts through allegations of juror drug or alcohol use, but it does allow jurors to impeach their verdicts based upon transcription mistakes). But what happens when an alternate juror participates, or distracts from, the jury deliberation process. Should this be considered something internal to the jury deliberation process and thus not a proper predicate for jury impeachment, or is it an improper outside influence and thus something that can form the predicate for jury impeachment? As the recent opinion of the Supreme Court of Indiana in Henri v. Curto, 2009 WL 1685134 (Ind. 2009), makes clear, Indiana courts have found that alternate jurors are improper outside influences, meaning that jurors can testify about their misconduct to impeach their verdicts.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Similar to most states' attorney-client privileges, Illinois' attorney-client privilege allows a client to prevent his attorney from disclosing a statement he made to his attorney in court if
(1) the statement originated in confidence that it would not be disclosed; (2) it was made to an attorney acting in his legal capacity for the purpose of securing legal advice or services; and (3) it remained confidential.
As the recent opinion of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Cars R Us Sales and Rentals, Inc. v. Ford Motor Co., 2009 WL 1703123 (N.D. Ill. 2009), makes clear, however, Illinois has an additional component to its attorney-client privilege, albeit one that was not relevant to the court's opinion.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Going Unnoticed: Texas Appeal Illustrates Difference Between Texas And Federal Rule Of Evidence 609(b)
Federal Rule of Evidence 609(b) provides that
Evidence of a conviction under this rule is not admissible [to impeach a witness] if a period of more than ten years has elapsed since the date of the conviction or of the release of the witness from the confinement imposed for that conviction, whichever is the later date, unless the court determines, in the interests of justice, that the probative value of the conviction supported by specific facts and circumstances substantially outweighs its prejudicial effect. However, evidence of a conviction more than 10 years old as calculated herein, is not admissible unless the proponent gives to the adverse party sufficient advance written notice of intent to use such evidence to provide the adverse party with a fair opportunity to contest the use of such evidence.
Texas Rule of Evidence 609(b) contains the first sentence of its federal counterpart, but it does not contain the second sentence, and this omission apparently made the difference in the recent opinion of the Court of Appeals of Texas in Gore v. State, 2009 WL 1688196 (Tex.App.-Hous. [1 Dist.] 2009).
Monday, June 22, 2009
The Harmless Conspiracy: Court Finds Harmless Error Despite Improperly Admitted Co-Conspirator Admission
Federal Rule of Evidence 801(d)(2)(E) provides that
[a] statement is not hearsay if...[t]he statement is offered against a party and is...a statement by a coconspirator of a party during the course and in furtherance of the conspiracy.
As both the plain language of this Rule and the recent opinion of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in Rodriguez v. Jones, 2009 WL 1619969 (E.D. Mich. 2009), make clear, a statement is not admissible under this rule merely because it was made by a party's co-conspirator; instead, the statement must be made both during the course of the conspiracy and in furtherance of it. And in Jones, the co-conspirator's statement was neither.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Federal Rule of Evidence 407 states that
When, after an injury or harm allegedly caused by an event, measures are taken that, if taken previously, would have made the injury or harm less likely to occur, evidence of the subsequent measures is not admissible to prove negligence, culpable conduct, a defect in a product, a defect in a product's design, or a need for a warning or instruction. This rule does not require the exclusion of evidence of subsequent measures when offered for another purpose, such as proving ownership, control, or feasibility of precautionary measures, if controverted, or impeachment.
In other words, if a plaintiff is going to sue a company such as Harley-Davidson for making a defective product that caused her to suffer injuries, her sole method of proof cannot be that the company recalled the product after her accident as is made clear by the recent opinion of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi in Rutledge v. Harley-Davidson Motor Co., 2009 WL 1635762 (S.D. Miss. 2009).