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Evidence
Charleston School of Law
Beckman, Sydney Aaron

I. Introduction
A. Federal Rules of Evidence §606(b)—Inquiry into Validity of Verdict or Indictment:
1. When validity of verdict is in question, juror may not testify about any element of deliberation except as to whether extraneous prejudicial information was improperly brought to jury’s attention or whether outside influence improperly brought affected a juror.
2. Testimony of juror for these purposes cannot contain anything juror would be precluded from testifying about.

B. Tanner v. United States (1987): Jury, Alcohol and Drugs…never a good mix!
Facts: Tanner was convicted of mail fraud. After the conviction, a juror made it known to Tanner’s attorney, by an unsolicited telephone call that several of the jurors consumed alcohol, cocaine, and marijuana during the lunch breaks at various times throughout the trial, causing them to sleep through the afternoons. Tanner submitted a declaration concerning this form a juror in support of a motion for a new trial. The district court held the declaration inadmissible under FRE 606, and denied the motion. The 11th circuit affirmed. Tanner obtained certiorari in the Supreme Court.

Holding:Allegations of mental or physical incompetence have always been treated as internal rather than external matters, and the conduct called into question here fits into that category.
EXTRINSIC V. INTRINSIC: External: Newspapers, TV reports, independent investigations, bailiff’s comments, bribes. Internal: mental & physical

II. General Principles of Relevance:
A. Probativeness and Materiality:
1. Rule 401—Definition of “Relevant Evidence” has a tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable that it would be without the evidence.
a. 2 Factors:
(1)Must be material—it must bear on a “fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action.”
(2)Evidence must be probative of a material fact. Must have a “tendancy to make the existence of that fact more probable or less probable that it would be without the evidence. LOGICAL relevance.
b. Probative means that the evidence would tend to increase or decrease the probability that the Δ is guilty.
c. Evidence will come in as long as no one objects.
d. Just b/c you can object to relevancy don’t unless it effects your case.
2. Rule 402—Relevant Evidence Generally Admissible; Irrelevant Evidence Inadmissible:
a. Establishes that basic principle that evidence that is not relevant is not admissible, while most evidence that is relevant is admissible).

3. Materiality:
a. U.S. v. James (1999): Jaylene’s Gotta Gun!!!

Rule: Documentary records are admissible to corroborate testimony to bolster credibility even when the testifying witness being corroborated & bolstered didn’t know the contents of the records.

Facts: The jury convicted James of aiding and abetting in the manslaughter of Ogden. Extrinsic evidence (evidence not contained within the text of a document or contract, but derived from plaintiff’s testimony) excluded from trial was that her boyfriend Ogden, bragged to James about stabbing a man in the neck w/ a ballpoint pen & about robbing an elderly man by threatening to cut out the man’s eyes w/ a knife on the basis that James would not have known about the extrinsic records at the time she gave Jaylene the gun.

Holding: Court reversed stating that the trial judge didn’t allow the admission of documentary records which would have corroborated James’s testimony, validated her fears of Ogden’s violent nature (her believing he was violent was at issue since her

very piece of evidence must meet this test.
b) Permits exclusion of otherwise relevant evidence, but is at judge’s discretion and is reviewable on appeal only for abuse of discretion.
c) Very liberal rule—favors admission of evidence because probative value must be substantially outweighed by unfair prejudice.

b. State v. Bocharski (2001): Trailer Park Trash
Rule: While gruesome photographs of victims & manner of death may certainly be relevant in a murder trial, not every photo is admissible if its purpose is merely to inflame or outrage the jury & prejudice the defense.

Facts: Bocharski appealedburglary & murder convictions & a capital sentence of Freeda Brown (elderly woman) due to the photographs of the 16 stab wounds to Brown’s head because their prejudicial value substantially outweighed their probative value. Brown was found dead in her trailer after Bocharski made comments about how he wished God would end her suffering. Police couldn’t locate Bocharski’s knife that Suski had given him as a present & never found the murder weapon, but arrested Bocharski.

Holding: Court affirmed, but would have reversed and remanded for new trial if the photos had inflamed the jury more. Harmless, not harmful; therefore, did not affect verdict.

Beckman Questions: 403: discretionary rule that allows a trial judge to exclude evidence if the danger of unfair prejudice to defendant outweighs its probative value.