EvidenceProf Blog

Editor: Colin Miller
Univ. of South Carolina School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Make Me Whole: Supreme Court Of Minnesota Opinion Reveals Odd "Whole Person" Analysis Under Felony Impeachment Rule

Minnesota Rule of Evidence 609(1) states,

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.

Continue reading

September 12, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Identity: Court Of Appeals Of Texas, San Antonio, Finds Rule 803(4) Covers Statements Of Identification By Child Declarants

Like its federal counterpartTexas Rule of Evidence 803(4) provides an exception to the rule against hearsay for

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. 

Generally, under this exception, a declarant's statements about the general source of an injury are admissible under this exception, but statements identifying the source of the injury. Thus a witness such as a doctor could testify that a patient told him, "I broke my arm when I was pushed down the stairs" but could not testify that a patient told him, I broke my arm when Dennis pushed me down the stairs." 

But what about when the patient is a child who lives with the alleged assailant? The identity of an assailant might not generally be "reasonably pertinent to diagnosis or treatment," but is the situation different when the patient is a child who presumably will return to live with the person who assaulted him? Courts are split on the issue, with the most recent court to weigh in being the Court of Appeals of Texas, San Antonio, in Little v. State, 2009 WL 2882932 (Tex.App.-San Antonio 2009).  

Continue reading

September 11, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Justice City, USA's List Of The Top 50 Criminal Justice Blogs

The blog Justice City, USA has an entry listing the Top 50 Criminal Justice Blogs. The list is broken down into the following categories:

General Criminal Justice Blogs

Police, Detective and Forensic Science Blogs

Judges and Courts Blogs

Sentencing and Corrections Blogs

Lawyer Blogs

Federal Criminal Blogs

Individual Rights Blogs

Criminal Psychology Blogs

Law Student Blogs

-CM

September 10, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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.

-CM

September 10, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Automatic For The People: Supreme Court Of Kentucky Adopts The Automatic Companion Rule

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.

Continue reading

September 9, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

2009 Legal Educator Blog Census, Version 2.0 (Blog/Blogger Statistics)

These are some statistics that I compiled regarding my blog census. According to my census, there are 588 educators at law schools in the United States posting on blogs. The gender breakdown is as follows:

368 male blogger

220 female bloggers

Continue reading

September 8, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (1)

2009 Legal Educator Blog Census, Version 2.0 (New Blogs/Bloggers)

This post contains (1) blogs that were started by legal educators after March 2009, and (2) bloggers who started posting on existing blogs after March 2009. 

Continue reading

September 8, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)

2009 Legal Educator Blog Census, Version 2.0 (Alphabetical Blog Listing)

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 hereFor statistics I compiled regarding the census, you can click here  

Continue reading

September 8, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

2009 Legal Educator Blog Census, Version 2.0 (Schools N-Z)

This post lists the blogs containing posts by legal educators at schools starting with the letter N-Z. The previous post listed the blogs containing posts by legal educators at schools starting with the letter A-MFor an alphabetical listing of blogs, you can click here. For statistics I compiled regarding the census, you can click here  

Continue reading

September 8, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

2009 Legal Educator Blog Census, Version 2.0 (Schools A-M)

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

Of course, Madison's projection was incorrect as Article I, Section 2 of the Constitution eventually provided that "[t]he actual Enumeration [of the population] shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such manner as they shall by law direct." Part of the reason that the framers made a decennial census a Constitutional requirement was that "[t]he census serves a vital statistical database that tells us who we are and where we are going as a nation."  

The purpose of this legal educator blog census is similar: telling us which legal educators are blogging and where the blogosphere is headed. Beginning in 2005, Daniel Solove and company began publishing a Law Professor Blogger Census. As an aspiring law professor at the time, I found that census to be an extremely useful tool for putting my finger on the pulse of legal academia. The last Law Professor Blogger Census was posted in August 2007, just as I entered the academy. When I asked Professor Solove earlier this year about whether he had any plans on preparing a new version, he informed me that he had no current plans and that I had his permission to prepare an update.

What follows is the first draft of what I am calling the Legal Educator Blogger Census because I have decided to list anyone who might be involved in the education of students at law schools in the United States: full time professors, adjunct professors, deans, legal writing instructors, law librarians, etc. I used the same methodology as Professor Solove in preparing my census: Anyone who posted at least one entry on a blog during a three month period (January 1, 2009-March 30, 2009) qualified for inclusion (except for guest bloggers). 

I realize that in the rapidly changing world of the blogosphere, this census is already somewhat out of date. For instance, my Census attributes CrimProf Blog to Mark Godsey, who was running it earlier this year, rather than the folks at the University of San Diego School of Law, who relaunched it a few days ago. For a list of blogs that were started after March and bloggers who started posting on blogs after March, you can click here

I hope that this Census, which I plan on updating annually, will serve at least three purposes: (1) giving those presently interested in the law a central location to be able to locate every legal educator blog; (2) tracking the changes in the number and type of legal educator blogs/bloggers per year; and (3) giving those interested in the law in the future an ability to track down legal educator blogs that might otherwise have disappeared without a trace.

I would like to thank my wife Zoe for her invaluable assistance in the preparation of this census.

This post lists the blogs containing posts by legal educators at schools starting with the letter A-M. The next post  lists the blogs containing posts by legal educators at schools starting with the letter N-Z. For an alphabetical listing of blogs, you can click here. For statistics I compiled regarding the census, you can click here 

Continue reading

September 8, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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 counterpartTennessee 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. 

Continue reading

September 7, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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, iCrawford 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).

Continue reading

September 6, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)