Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Steve Klepper (@MDAppeal) has a great mega-thread on the appeal in the Adnan Syed case that coincides with a significant development in that appeal. So, where do we currently stand, and what can Klepper's thread tell us about the future of Adnan's case?
Friday, June 15, 2018
Should Courts Allow for the Admission of Pre-Trial Identifications by Witnesses Who Can't Remember Making Them?
The leading cause of wrongful convictions in this country is eyewitness misidentifications. Specifically, "eyewitness misidentification testimony was a factor in 75 percent of post-conviction DNA exoneration cases in the U.S., making it the leading cause of these wrongful convictions." So, can we square this empirical data with a rule of evidence that applies across this country?
Monday, June 11, 2018
Upon an inquiry into the validity of a verdict or indictment, a juror shall not testify by affidavit or otherwise nor shall a juror's statements be received in evidence as to any matter or statement occurring during the course of the jury's deliberations or to the effect of anything upon the jury deliberations 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; provided, however, that a juror may testify on the question of whether extraneous prejudicial information was improperly brought to the juror's attention, whether any outside influence was improperly brought to bear upon any juror, or whether there was a mistake in entering the verdict onto the verdict form.
This rule basically has an external dichotomy. Jurors can testify about non-jurors influencing them (e.g., through threats) or about being exposed to evidence not presented in the courtroom (e.g., the juror in the Joey Watkins case doing a drive test). Conversely, jurors generally can't testify about behavior by other jurors, no matter how offensive. A good example of this can be found in the recent case, Sears v. Sellers, 2018 WL 2364283 (N.D.Ga 2018).
Thursday, June 7, 2018
[F]or any crime regardless of the punishment, the evidence [of a prior conviction] must be admitted if the court can readily determine that establishing the elements of the crime required proving — or the witness’s admitting — a dishonest act or false statement.
So, does a conviction for evidence tampering qualify as a crime with a dishonest act or false statement? That was the question addressed by the Court of Appeals of Utah in its recent opinion in State v. York, 2018 WL 2276129 (Utah App. 2018).