Thursday, May 30, 2019
Federal Rule of Evidence 804(b)(2) provides an exception to the rule against hearsay for dying declarations. Specifically, it provides an exception,
[i]n a prosecution for homicide or in a civil case, [for] a statement that the declarant, while believing the declarant’s death to be imminent, made about its cause or circumstances.
As the recent opinion of the Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 8, California in People v. Ramirez, 4 Cal.App.5th 823 (Cal.App. 2019), makes clear, however, California's dying declarations exception is broader.
Saturday, May 25, 2019
On May 23rd, the Supreme Court adopted the Daubert test for the admission of expert evidence in In re Amendments to the Florida Evidence Code. Just two years ago, that same court had rejected the Daubert by a close 16-14 vote. So, what does the change mean?
Wednesday, May 22, 2019
Yesterday, we got the great news that Judge Barbara McDermott had declared Terrance Lewis innocent, leading to his release today. Given this terrific, and surprising, turn of events, I wanted to do an update on the status of all of the cases we've covered on Undisclosed.
Saturday, May 18, 2019
Sixth Circuit Awards New Trial Based Upon Prosecutor's Questions/Comments About the Defendant's Worship of Jesus Malverde Statue
Federal Rule of Evidence 610 states that
Evidence of a witness’s religious beliefs or opinions is not admissible to attack or support the witness’s credibility.
This is a Rule that very rarely comes into play...but it was one of the grounds for a new trial in this week's opinion of the Sixth Circuit in United States v. Acosta, 2019 WL 2120168 (6th Cir. 2019)
Monday, May 13, 2019
Eighth Circuit Finds No Problem With the Admissions of Photos/Video of a Defendant's Unrelated Arrest Weeks Before the Crime Charged
Assume that a defendant is charged with robbery and related crimes.
The store’s surveillance video captured the incident. The man was wearing a black ski mask and sunglasses, so his face was hidden. The robber also donned a black jacket with red and white trim, a red hooded sweatshirt, red shoes with one white shoelace and one red shoelace, and latex gloves.
Assume that the defendant had been arrested a few weeks before the robbery for an unrelated charge and was "wearing a jacket and shoes that matched the jacket and shoes worn by the person that committed the robbery." Should the prosecution be able to introduce video/photos of the defendant at jail from his prior arrest? That was the question addressed by the Eighth Circuit in its recent opinion in United States v. Conner, 2019 WL 2039858 (8th Cir. 2019).
Friday, May 10, 2019
On Wednesday, Senators Dan Sullivan and Dick Durbin introduced the Due Process Protection Act: S.1380 - A bill to amend the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure to remind prosecutors of their obligations under Supreme Court case law. The language of the bill isn't available yet, but a press release contains this statement by Senator Sullivan:
Our Constitution and Supreme Court have long established fundamental, commonsense protections for citizens facing prosecution – including the evidence disclosure obligation outlined in the case, Brady v Maryland....Unfortunately, this obligation is sometimes ignored to the detriment of our entire criminal justice system and inherent notions of fair play. Alaskans are keenly aware of this kind of miscarriage of justice, which was rampant in the high-profile prosecution of the late Senator Ted Stevens, a case that was dismissed following egregious due process violations. Our legislation is flexible and narrowly tailored to ensure that prosecutors abide by their constitutional obligations, and can be held accountable if they do not.
Thursday, May 2, 2019
Court of Special Appeals of Maryland Finds Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Based on Failure to Request an Alibi Instruction
Yesterday, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland issued an opinion in a kidnapping/murder case in which the defendant claimed that he received the ineffective assistance of counsel in connection with an alibi. The primary evidence against the defendant was a witness who did not see the kidnapping/murder but who claimed to know all the details of the crime in a story that changed over various tellings. This case was not the Adnan Syed case, but Adnan's case might have ramifications for this case...because the defendant was granted a new trial.
Wednesday, May 1, 2019
Court of Appeals of South Carolina Finds Wrongfully Convicted Defendants Don't Have a Constitutional Right to Compensation
Recently, the Court of Appeals of South Carolina issued its opinion in Palmer v. State. That opinion answered a simple question: Does a wrongfully convicted defendant have a Constitutional right to compensation for his years of imprisonment? And, according to the court, the answer to that question is "no."