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Evidence
University of North Carolina School of Law
McClanahan, Jon Paul

 
EVIDENCE
 
McClanahan, Spring 2015
 
RELEVANCY
 
I. Probativeness and Materiality
 
 
Relevant= material + probative (logical relevancy)
·         Probative= it must tend to prove or disprove a fact by making it “more or less probable than it would be without the evidence”—doesn’t have to prove anything, just has to have some tendency
·         Material= if it bears on a fact “of consequence in determining the action”—turns on what issues are at stake in the proceedingà substantive law/elements of a crime
 
Evidence à  probative= makes more or less probable à Fact à  material= of consequence in determining à Action
 
US v. James: boyfriend was violent and abusive to girlfriend and her daughter—girlfriend had another boyfriend—at a party, boyfriend 1 punched boyfriend 2, knocking him unconscious; daughter then took gun that her mom handed her and shot and killed boyfriend 1
·         Evidence= victim’s violent history
·         Purpose= victim had bragged to girlfriend about it, but she never knew for sure if he had actually done any of ità doesn’t matter whether the violent history was TRUE, only that the girlfriend believed it to be true
·         Court= evidence ALLOWED IN—it was absolutely necessary to the girlfriend’s defense for the jury to believe that she wasn’t making up the stories and that she was in fear
 
II. Conditional Relevance
 
Cox v. State: D charged with murder for killing dude that pressed charges against his friend, who was then serving prison time for those crimes—went up to window and shot him while he was sleeping—D told a bunch of people he did it
·         Evidence= regarding a bond reduction hearing that took place 4 days prior to the shooting—D’s friend’s bond was not reduced, and D argues that this is inadmissible because prosecutor would have to prove that D knew of this hearing in order for it to be relevant and they couldn’t
o    Conditional relevance= if D knew of the hearing, then the information regarding the hearing would be relevant and extremely probative; otherwise, it’s not at all relevant to the murder
·         Judge must determine only that a reasonable jury could make the requisite factual determination based on the evidence before it
·         State introduced evidence that D spent almost every day with friend’s momà mom attended hearingà can infer that D had learned about the haring from his relationship with his mom
·         Court= evidence ALLOWED IN
 
 
III. Probativeness vs. The Risk of Unfair Prejudice
Undue Prejudice= capacity of some concededly relevant evidence to lure the fact-finder into declaring guilt on a ground different from proof specific to the offense charged à aka he should be found guilty because he’s just a bad person
 
1. Photos and Other Inflammatory Evidence
 
State v. Bocharski: D and friend murder old lady neighbor
·         Evidence= 6 very gruesome photographs
·         If a photo is of a nature to incite passion or inflame the jury, then the court must de

: whether evidence of mathematical probability has been properly introduced and used by the prosecution in a criminal case
·         Court= the testimony as to mathematical probability infected the case with fatal error and distorted the jury’s traditional role of determining guilt or innocence according to long-settled rules
·         No equation in the world can prove beyond a reasonable doubt (1) that the guilty couple IN FACT possessed the described characteristics; or even (2) that only ONE couple possessing those distinctive characteristics could be found in the entire LA area
 
4. Effect of Stipulations
 
Old Chief v. US: possession of a firearm by a felon—D wants to only show the jury that he has been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for one year (=felony)—not the specific crime he was convicted of
·         Evidence= D’s criminal history to prove he’s a “felon”
·         Court= where a prior felony conviction is important, the government may rely on the D to concede to the prior conviction element, and thus preclude the government from offering evidence on this point
·         Discounted probative value= because we have an alternative, we discount the probative value