Saturday, September 12, 2009
Make Me Whole: Supreme Court Of Minnesota Opinion Reveals Odd "Whole Person" Analysis Under Felony Impeachment Rule
For the purpose of attacking the credibility of a witness, evidence that the witness has been convicted of a crime shall be admitted only if the crime (1) was punishable by death or imprisonment in excess of one year under the law under which the witness was convicted, and the court determines that the probative value of admitting this evidence outweighs its prejudicial effect.
Like most other courts, Minnesota courts balance probative value and prejudicial effect by considering five factors, with the first of those factors being the impeachment value of the prior conviction. Under this factors, courts look at how much bearing the prior crime(s) leading to the witness' prior conviction(s) has on his (dis)honesty as a witness, with certain crimes, such as crimes as violence, having low impeachment value, and other crimes, such as larceny, having high impeachment value. In other words, in a given case, based upon the nature of a witness' prior crimes/convictions, factor one could weigh in favor of admission or against it. Then, there is Minnesota's "whole person" approach.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Identity: Court Of Appeals Of Texas, San Antonio, Finds Rule 803(4) Covers Statements Of Identification By Child Declarants
Statements made for purposes of medical diagnosis or treatment and describing medical history, or past or present symptoms, pain, or sensations, or the inception or general character of the cause or external source thereof insofar as reasonably pertinent to diagnosis or treatment.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
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The Myth Of Fingerprints, Take 4: Federal Judge Finds Fingerprint Evidence Admissible In Brian Keith Rose Murder Trial
I've written three previous posts (here, here, and here) about a decision by a Baltimore County judge who ruled that fingerprint evidence failed the Frye test in the murder trial of Brian Keith Rose. In my last post, I noted how, after this ruling, state prosecutors handed the case over to federal prosecutors, with the head of the Montgomery County public defender's office hoping that the federal authorities would respect that decision by the state judge.
They didn't. The prosecutors in the federal case against Rose moved for the admission of fingerprint evidence against him, and on Tuesday, the federal judge hearing the case found contrary to the Baltimore County judge and deemed the evidence admissible. When I get my hands on a copy of the opinion, I will post another entry on the case.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
In its recent opinion in Owens v. Commonwealth, 2009 WL 2705890 (Ky. 2009), the Supreme Court of Kentucky had to resolve a question of first impression in Kentucky: May an officer conduct a pat-down search for weapons of a passenger of a vehicle when the driver has been arrested and the driver possessed illegal narcotics even if there is no independent suspicion that the passenger is guilty of criminal conduct? And the court answered the question in the affirmative by adopting the automatic companion rule.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
368 male blogger220 female bloggers
This in an alphabetical listing of every legal educator blog. For blogs posted upon by educators at law schools starting with the letters A-M, click here. For blogs posted upon by educators at law schools starting with the letters N-Z, click here. For statistics I compiled regarding the census, you can click here.
A Bill for taking a census has passed the House of Representatives, and is within the Senate. It contained a schedule for ascertaining the component classes of the Society, a kind of information extremely requisite to the Legislator, and much wanted for the science of Political Economy. A repetition of it every ten years would hereafter afford a most curious and instructive assemblage of facts. It was thrown out by the Senate as a waste of trouble and supplying materials for idle people to make a book. Judge by this little experiment of the reception likely to be given to so great an idea as that explained in your letter of September.
-Letter from James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, February 14, 1970
Monday, September 7, 2009
Total Recall? Court Of Criminal Appeals Of Tennessee Notes That Rule 602 Merely Requires Personal Knowledge In Labor Day Case
Like its federal counterpart, Tennessee Rule of Evidence 602 provides in relevant part that "[a] witness may not testify to a matter unless evidence is introduced sufficient to support a finding that the witness has personal knowledge of the matter." And, as the recent opinion of the Court of Criminal Appeals of Tennessee in State v. Johnston, 2009 WL 2733523 (Tenn.Crim.App. 2009), makes clear, all this rule requires is that a witness testifying about an event actually observed the event; it does not require total recall.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Context Matters: Supreme Court Of Kentucky Finds Admission Of Statements To Provide Context Didn't Violate Confrontation Clause
The Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment provides that "[i]n all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right...to be confronted with the witnesses against him." And, in Crawford v. Washington, the Supreme Court essentially found that the Confrontation Clause is violated when hearsay is "testimonial," admitted against a criminal defendant, and the hearsay declarant does not testify at the defendant's trial, unless (1) the declarant was unavailable for trial, and (2) the defendant was previously able to cross-examine the declarant. But what happens when the prosecution offers statements not to prove the truth of the matter asserted, but to provide context? This was the issue of first impression recently addressed by the Supreme Court of Kentucky in Hall v. Commonwealth, 2009 270225 (Ky. 2009).