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Evidence
Wayne State University Law School
Lund, Christopher C.

Evidence Outline – December 21, 2009

1. Logical Relevance
1. Old Chief v. United States (I)

Course :

Evidence

Case Name :

Old Chief v. United States (I)

Case Date :

1997

Citation :

512 U.S. 172

Jurisdiction :

Supreme Court of the United States

Book Page :

52

Legal Concepts:

Logical Relevance
RELEVANCE

Facts
The charges against defendant resulted from a fight involving at least one gunshot. Before trial, defendant moved for an order prohibiting the government from mentioning or offering into evidence any testimony regarding his prior criminal conviction for assault causing serious bodily injury, except to state that he had been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment exceeding one year. Defendant also offered to stipulate that he had been convicted of such a crime. The government refused the offered stipulation, and the district court ruled that the government was not required to so stipulate. The government introduced at trial, over defendant’s objection, the order of judgment and commitment for defendant’s prior conviction. The jury found defendant guilty on all counts, and the appellate court affirmed.

Rule of Law
FRE 403. Relevant evidence may be excluded if when its risk of prejudice substantially outweighs its probative value, in view of available evidence on the same point.

Procedural History
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed defendant’s conviction for assault with a deadly weapon, using a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion by allowing the prosecution to introduce evidence of defendant’s prior conviction. Defendant sought a writ of certiorari.

Issue
May relevant evidence be excluded if when its risk of prejudice substantially outweighs its probative value, in view of available evidence on the same point?

Holding
On certiorari review, defendant argued that his offer to stipulate rendered the prior conviction inadmissible under Fed. R. Evid. 403. The Court agreed, holding that the district court abused its discretion in admitting defendant’s record of conviction because its discounted probative value was substantially outweighed by the risk of unfair prejudice.

2. Pragmatic Relevance
1. Old Chief v. United States (II)

Course :

Evidence

Case Name :

Old Chief v. United States (II)

Case Date :

1997

Citation :

519 U.S. 172

Jurisdiction :

Supreme Court of the United States

Book Page :

72

Legal Concepts:

Pragmatic Relevance
RELEVANCE

Rule of Law
in Old Chief (I), the court decided that you determine whether the piece of evidence was relevant. If the piece made one side of the case more probably then it was admissible.

Issue
Whether the name of the prior felony is prejudicial?

Holding
There is very little probative value because Old Chief stipulation gives the prosecution what they need. The name would undervalue the rest of the evidence because the jury might rely on past conviction to make a determination or ignore the evidence and facts of this case altogether.

3. RELEVANCE
1. State v. Chapple

Course :

Evidence

Case Name :

State v. Chapple

Case Date :

1983

Citation :

660 P.2d

Jurisdiction :

Arizona Supreme Court

Book Page :

69

Legal Concepts:

RELEVANCE

Facts
Defendant’s conviction was based largely on identification evidence, which included a photograph line-up more than a year after the crime. On appeal, the court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in holding that the photographic display from which defendant was identified was not unnecessarily suggestive when the hair on all of the photographs was shortened. However, the trial court erred in admitting inflammatory photographs of the charred body and skull of a victim. The photographs had very little probative value when the cause of death was not disputed. The court also erred in excluding defendant’s expert on eyewitness identification, because identification was the issue on which the guilt or innocence of defendant hinged. The expert was qualified and her testimony was probative and relevant to the eyewitness identification. Considering the erroneous admission of inflammatory photographs and preclusion of the expert testimony, the court was not able to conclude that the jury would have convicted in the absence of the error.

Procedural History
Defendant appealed a judgment of the Superior Court of Maricopa County (Arizona), which convicted him of three counts of first-degree murder, one count of unlawfully transporting marijuana, and one count of conspiring to unlawfully transport marijuana.
Issue
Rule 401- whether the pictures are relevant. the court has determined they are relevant. Rule o

Book Page :

72

Legal Concepts:

Pragmatic Relevance
RELEVANCE

Rule of Law
in Old Chief (I), the court decided that you determine whether the piece of evidence was relevant. If the piece made one side of the case more probably then it was admissible.

Issue
Whether the name of the prior felony is prejudicial?

Holding
There is very little probative value because Old Chief stipulation gives the prosecution what they need. The name would undervalue the rest of the evidence because the jury might rely on past conviction to make a determination or ignore the evidence and facts of this case altogether.

4. IMPEACHMENT OF WITNESS” CREDIBILITY
1. Bias
1. United States v. Abel

Course :

Evidence

Case Name :

United States v. Abel

Case Date :

1984

Citation :

469 U.S 45

Jurisdiction :

United States Supreme Court

Judge :

Justice Renquist

Book Page :

513

Legal Concepts:

IMPEACHMENT OF WITNESS” CREDIBILITY\Bias

Facts
The respondent Abel was indicted for robbing two savings and loan banks. He was involved with the crime and two others but they plead guilty and one agreed to testify against Abel. In an effort to counter the testimony by Kurt Ehle, the defense offered another witness by the name of Robert Mills. The plaintiff countered Mills testimony on cross which brought of gang affiliation to show the witness lacked credibility and was bias and the defense objected. However the District Court allowed the cross to be admitted and asked if the defense wanted limited instruction. The jury convicted Abel and he appealed. The COA reversed the verdict stating the District Court erred in allowing the cross examination to be allowed which was prejudicial. Plaintiff sought certiorari.