EvidenceProf Blog

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

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Saturday, February 4, 2012

It's So Juvenile: 6th Circuit Finds Failure To Disclose Juvenile Adjudication Could Have Violated Brady But Didn't

Ohio Rule of Evidence 609(D) provides that "[e]vidence of juvenile adjudications is not admissible except as provided by statute enacted by the General Assembly." So, let's say that the State fails to disclose that a witness for the prosecution has a juvenile adjudication. Can this failure to disclose form the basis for a Brady violation because the adjudication constitutes material exculpatory evidence? According to the recent opinon of the Sixth Circuit in Wogenstahl v. Mitchell, 2012 WL 310819 (6th Cir. 2012), the answer is "yes." 

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February 4, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 3, 2012

(Attempted) Murder Was The Case: Court Of Appeals Of Iowa Finds No Error In Impeachment Of Defense Witness

Similar to its federal counterpartIowa Rule of Evidence 5.609(a)(1) provides that

Evidence that a witness other than the accused has been convicted of a crime shall be admitted, subject to rule 5.403, if the crime was punishable by death or imprisonment in excess of one year pursuant to the law under which the witness was convicted, and evidence that an accused has been convicted of such a crime shall be admitted if the court determines that the probative value of admitting this evidence outweighs its prejudicial effect to the accused....

So, let's say that a defendant is convicted of intimidation with a dangerous weapon, willful injury causing serious injury, going armed with intent, and possession of a firearm as a felon. and let's say that a defense witness has an attempted murder conviction, with his date of release from that conviction being 8 years before the defendant's trial. Should the prosecution be able to impeach the defense witness with evidence of this conviction? According to the recent opinion of the Court of Appeals of Iowa in State v. Love, 2012 WL 300321 (Iowa.App. 2012), the answer is "yes."

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February 3, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Texas Justice: Court Of Appeals Of Texas, Houston, Notes Exception To Rule 608(b)

Texas Rule of Evidence 608(b) provides that

Specific instances of the conduct of a witness, for the purpose of attacking or supporting the witness' credibility, other than conviction of crime as provided in Rule 609, may not be inquired into on cross-examination of the witness nor proved by extrinsic evidence.

That said, Texas courts have carved out an exception to Rule 608(b) as is made clear by the recent opinion of the Court of Appeals of Texas, Houston, in McGough v. State, 2012 WL 273885 (Tex.App.-Houston [14 Dist.] 2012).

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February 2, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Call The Doctor: Military Court Finds Psychotherapist Privilege Inapplicable To Statements To Doctor At Mental Health Department

Military Rule of Evidence 513(a) provides that

A patient has a privilege to refuse to disclose and to prevent any other person from disclosing a confidential communication made between the patient and a psychotherapist or an assistant to the psychotherapist, in a case arising under the UCMJ, if such communication was made for the purpose of facilitating diagnosis or treatment of the patient’s mental or emotional condition.

And, as the recent opinion of the U.S. Navy–Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals in United States v. McGuire, 2012 WL 267935 (N.M.Ct.Crim.App. 2012), makes clear, the Military Rules of Evidence only contain this psychotherapist-patient privilege and do not contain a physician-patient privilege.

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February 1, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Foolish Consistency?: Does Minnesota's Prior Consistent Statement Rule Make Sense?

Federal Rule of Evidence 801(d)(1)(B) indicates that 

A statement that meets the following conditions is not hearsay:

(1) A Declarant-Witness’s Prior Statement. The declarant testifies and is subject to cross-examination about a prior statement, and the statement:

(B) is consistent with the declarant’s testimony and is offered to rebut an express or implied charge that the declarant recently fabricated it or acted from a recent improper influence or motive in so testifying; or

Meanwhile, Minnesota Rule of Evidence 801(d)(1)(B) indicates that

A statement is not hearsay if--

(1) Prior statement by witness. The declarant testifies at the trial or hearing and is subject to cross-examination concerning the statement, and the statement is...consistent with the declarant's testimony and helpful to the trier of fact in evaluating the declarant's credibility as a witness...

The recent opinion of the Court of Appeals of Minnesota in State v. Johnson, 2012 WL 254476 (Minn.App. 2012), reveals the problem that I have with Minnesota's version of Rule 801(d)(1)(B).

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January 31, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 30, 2012

You And I: Supreme Court Of Maine Reverses Conviction Based On Improperly Admitted Hearsay

Federal Rule of Evidence 804(b)(3) provides an exception to the rule against hearsay for

A statement that:

(A) a reasonable person in the declarant’s position would have made only if the person believed it to be true because, when made, it was so contrary to the declarant’s proprietary or pecuniary interest or had so great a tendency to invalidate the declarant’s claim against someone else or to expose the declarant to civil or criminal liability; and

(B) is supported by corroborating circumstances that clearly indicate its trustworthiness, if it is offered in a criminal case as one that tends to expose the declarant to criminal liability.

Meanwhile, Maine's counterpart, Maine Rule of Evidence 804(b)(3), provides an exception for

A statement which was at the time of its making so far contrary to the declarant's pecuniary or proprietary interest, or so far tended to subject him to civil or criminal liability or to render invalid a claim by him against another or to make him an object of hatred, ridicule, or disgrace, that a reasonable man in his position would not have made the statement unless he believed it to be true. A statement tending to expose the declarant to criminal liability and offering to exculpate the accused is not admissible unless corroborating circumstances clearly indicate the trustworthiness of the statement. A statement or confession offered against the accused in a criminal case, made by a codefendant or other person implicating both himself and the accused, is not within this exception. (emphasis added).

And what this last, bolded sentence of Maine Rule 804(b)(3) means is that the statement prompting the defendant's appeal in State v. Guyette, 2012 WL 182159 (Me. 2012), was clearly inadmissible.

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January 30, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Revelations: Should A Jury Verdict Based On A Divine Revelation Be Impeachable?

Similar to its federal counterpart, Utah Rule of Evidence 606(b) provides that

(1)   Prohibited Testimony or Other Evidence. During an inquiry into the validity of a verdict or indictment, a juror may not testify about any statement made or incident that occurred during the jury’s deliberations; the effect of anything on that juror’s or another juror’s vote; or any juror’s mental processes concerning the verdict or indictment. The court may not receive a juror’s affidavit or evidence of a juror’s statement on these matters.

(2)   Exceptions. A juror may testify about whether:

(A)   extraneous prejudicial information was improperly brought to the jury’s attention; or

(B)   an outside influence was improperly brought to bear on any juror.

So, let's say that a juror claims to have received a revelation that if defense counsel did not make eye contact with her when he presented his argument, the defendant was guilty. If the defendant seeks to present evidence of this revelation to impeach his guilty verdict, should the court deem the evidence admissible? Let's take a look at the recent opinion of the Supreme Court of Utah in Taylor v. State, 2012 WL 192798 (Utah 2012).

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January 29, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)