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Evidence Commons

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2017

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Full-Text Articles in Evidence

Touch Dna And Chemical Analysis Of Skin Trace Evidence: Protecting Privacy While Advancing Investigations, Mary Graw Leary Dec 2017

Touch Dna And Chemical Analysis Of Skin Trace Evidence: Protecting Privacy While Advancing Investigations, Mary Graw Leary

William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal

This Article addresses touch DNA, chemical analysis of skin traces, and the implications for crime scene investigation, arguing that changes in how trace evidence is analyzed require alterations in the law’s approach to its use. Part I discusses the history of traditional DNA analysis. Part II examines the emergence of touch DNA and related technologies and how they differ from traditional DNA analysis. Part III outlines the specific risks created by the collection and storing of results under the current outdated jurisprudence. Part IV focuses on specific risks to suspects and victims of crime. Part V proposes a legal ...


Close Enough For Government Work: Proving Minimal Nexus In A Federal And Firearms Conviction: United States V. Corey, Barbara H. Taylor Dec 2017

Close Enough For Government Work: Proving Minimal Nexus In A Federal And Firearms Conviction: United States V. Corey, Barbara H. Taylor

Maine Law Review

In United States v. Corey, Alvin Scott Corey was found guilty of possessing a firearm as a felon. Although Corey's possession of a Smith and Wesson shotgun violated Maine law, Corey was prosecuted in the United States District Court under the federal statute 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) and its penalty statute, § 924(e). On appeal, Corey argued that one of the requirements for his conviction, proof of the statute's jurisdictional element, had not been satisfied because that proof rested on expert testimony based, in part, on hearsay. The First Circuit Court of Appeals, in a ...


Scientific Evidence And Forensic Science Since Daubert: Maine Decides To Sit Out On The Dance, Thomas L. Bohan Dec 2017

Scientific Evidence And Forensic Science Since Daubert: Maine Decides To Sit Out On The Dance, Thomas L. Bohan

Maine Law Review

In 1993, the Supreme Court of the United States stated that with the federal adoption of statutory rules of evidence in 1975, the common law rule for determining admissibility of scientific testimony was superseded, and that thenceforth admissibility of scientific testimony was to be determined solely by Federal Rule of Evidence 702 (Rule 702). The Frye standard had been adopted in one form or another by most of the federal circuits and by many of the state courts during the 70 years preceding Daubert. Referred to as the “general acceptance” standard, the Frye standard--although adopted in a variety of forms--had ...


The Effects Of Promising To Tell The Truth, The Putative Confession, And Recall And Recognition Questions On Maltreated And Non-Maltreated Children's Disclosure Of A Minor Transgression, Jodi A. Quas, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Thomas D. Lyon Nov 2017

The Effects Of Promising To Tell The Truth, The Putative Confession, And Recall And Recognition Questions On Maltreated And Non-Maltreated Children's Disclosure Of A Minor Transgression, Jodi A. Quas, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Thomas D. Lyon

University of Southern California Legal Studies Working Paper Series

This study examined the utility of two interview instructions designed to overcome children’s reluctance to disclose transgressions: eliciting a promise from children to tell the truth and the putative confession (telling children that a suspect “told me everything that happened and wants you to tell the truth”). The key questions were whether the instructions increased disclosure in response to recall questions and in response to recognition questions that were less or more explicit about transgressions, and whether instructions were differentially effective with age. Two-hundred and seventeen 4- to 9-year-old maltreated and comparable non-maltreated children played with a stranger. This ...


19. Child Witnesses., Thomas D. Lyon, Kelly Mcwilliams, Shanna Williams Nov 2017

19. Child Witnesses., Thomas D. Lyon, Kelly Mcwilliams, Shanna Williams

Thomas D. Lyon

In this chapter we provide an overview of psychological issues involving children’s capacities as witnesses. First, we discuss the kinds of cases in which children are usually involved. Across different courts, one most often sees children describing abuse at the hands of familiar adults. Second, we describe the difficulties children encounter in disclosing abuse, particularly when it is perpetrated by adults close to them. These dynamics lead most children to remain silent, and only the most forthcoming children to disclose. Third, we suggest a framework for assessing children’s allegations, in which child-generated and adult-generated information lie on opposite ...


Calling Crawford: Minnesota Declares A 911 Call Non-Testimonial In State V. Wright, Alistair Y. Raymond Nov 2017

Calling Crawford: Minnesota Declares A 911 Call Non-Testimonial In State V. Wright, Alistair Y. Raymond

Maine Law Review

In State v. Wright, 1 the State of Minnesota charged David Wright with possession of a firearm by a felon and two counts of second-degree assault against his girlfriend and her sister. A jury found Wright guilty on all charges and sentenced him to sixty months in jail for each crime, with sentences served concurrently. Wright’s girlfriend, R.R., and her sister, S.R., did not testify against him at trial. The prosecution, however, used the transcript of a 911 call placed by R.R. against Wright in the trial. Although the 911 call was hearsay, the court admitted ...


The Relation Between Young Children's False Response Latency, Executive Functioning, And Truth-Lie Understanding, Shanna Williams, Elizabeth C. Ahern, Thomas D. Lyon Nov 2017

The Relation Between Young Children's False Response Latency, Executive Functioning, And Truth-Lie Understanding, Shanna Williams, Elizabeth C. Ahern, Thomas D. Lyon

University of Southern California Legal Studies Working Paper Series

This study examined relations between children’s false statements and response latency, executive functioning, and truth-lie understanding in order to understand what underlies children’s emerging ability to make false statements. A total of 158 (2- to 5- year-old) children earned prizes for claiming that they were looking at birds even when presented with images of fish. Children were asked recall (“what do you have?”), recognition (“do you have a bird/fish?”), and outcome (“did you win/lose?”) questions. Response latencies were greater when children were presented with fish pictures than bird pictures, particularly when they were asked recall questions ...


61. The Relation Between Young Children’S False Statements And Response Latency, Executive Functioning, And Truth–Lie Understanding., Shanna Williams, Elizabeth C. Ahern, Thomas D. Lyon Nov 2017

61. The Relation Between Young Children’S False Statements And Response Latency, Executive Functioning, And Truth–Lie Understanding., Shanna Williams, Elizabeth C. Ahern, Thomas D. Lyon

Thomas D. Lyon

This study examined relations between children’s false statements and response latency, executive functioning, and truth-lie understanding in order to understand what underlies children’s emerging ability to make false statements. A total of 158 (2- to 5-year-old) children earned prizes for claiming that they were looking at birds even when presented with images of fish. Children were asked recall (“what do you have?”), recognition (“do you have a bird/fish?”), and outcome (“did you win/lose?”) questions. Response latencies were greater when children were presented with fish pictures than bird pictures, particularly when they were asked recall questions, and ...


60. The Effects Of Promising To Tell The Truth, The Putative Confession, And Recall And Recognition Questions On Maltreated And Non-Maltreated Children’S Disclosure Of A Minor Transgression., Jodi A. Quas, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Thomas D. Lyon Nov 2017

60. The Effects Of Promising To Tell The Truth, The Putative Confession, And Recall And Recognition Questions On Maltreated And Non-Maltreated Children’S Disclosure Of A Minor Transgression., Jodi A. Quas, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Thomas D. Lyon

Thomas D. Lyon

This study examined the utility of two interview instructions designed to overcome children’s reluctance to disclose transgressions: eliciting a promise from children to tell the truth and the putative confession (telling children that a suspect “told me everything that happened and wants you to tell the truth”). The key questions were whether the instructions increased disclosure in response to recall questions and in response to recognition questions that were less or more explicit about transgressions, and whether instructions were differentially effective with age. Two-hundred and seventeen 4- to 9-year-old maltreated and comparable non-maltreated children played with a stranger. This ...


Relations Between Attorney Temporal Structure And Children's Response Productivity In Cases Of Alleged Child Sexual Abuse, J. Zoe Klemfuss, Kyndra C. Cleveland, J A. Quas, Thomas D. Lyon Nov 2017

Relations Between Attorney Temporal Structure And Children's Response Productivity In Cases Of Alleged Child Sexual Abuse, J. Zoe Klemfuss, Kyndra C. Cleveland, J A. Quas, Thomas D. Lyon

University of Southern California Legal Studies Working Paper Series

Purpose. Previous research has demonstrated that attorney question format relates to child witness’ response productivity. However, little work has examined the extent to which attorneys provide temporal structure in their questions, and the effects of this structure on children’s responding. The purpose of this study was to address this gap in the literature to identify methods by which attorneys increase children’s response productivity on the stand without risking objections from opposing counsel for ‘calling for narrative answers’.

Methods. In this study, we coded criminal court transcripts involving child witnesses (5–18 years) for narrative structure in attorney questions ...


When Interviewing Children: A Review And Update, Karen J. Saywitz, Thomas D. Lyon, Gail S. Goodwin Nov 2017

When Interviewing Children: A Review And Update, Karen J. Saywitz, Thomas D. Lyon, Gail S. Goodwin

University of Southern California Legal Studies Working Paper Series

In this chapter, we highlight principles for interviewing children based on the best available science, understanding that such principles keep changing as new evidence accumulates and that gaps exist in the knowledge base where guidance is limited. Interviewers will need to stay abreast of new developments. First, we briefly describe the data base from which the tools derive--studies conducted in the laboratory and in the field. Then we discuss evidence-based interview tools and features of the interview about which there is sufficient empirical evidence and consensus to derive “toolboxes.” We discuss interview structure, setting, children’s reluctance and suggestibility, rapport ...


Spatial Language, Question Type, And Young Children's Ability To Describe Clothing: Legal And Developmental Implications, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Kelly Mcwilliams, Thomas D. Lyon Nov 2017

Spatial Language, Question Type, And Young Children's Ability To Describe Clothing: Legal And Developmental Implications, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Kelly Mcwilliams, Thomas D. Lyon

University of Southern California Legal Studies Working Paper Series

Children’s descriptions of clothing placement and touching with respect to clothing are central to assessing child sexual abuse allegations. This study examined children’s ability to answer the types of questions attorneys and interviewers typically ask about clothing, using the most common spatial terms (on/off, outside/inside, over/under). Ninety-seven 3- to 6-year-olds were asked yes/no (e.g. “Is the shirt on?”), forced-choice (e.g., “Is the shirt on or off?”), open-choice (e.g., “Is the shirt on or off or something else?”), or where questions (e.g., “Where is the shirt?”) about clothing using a human ...


"Where Were Your Clothes?" Eliciting Descriptions Of Clothing Placement From Children Alleging Sexual Abuse In Criminal Trials And Forensic Interviews, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Thomas D. Lyon Nov 2017

"Where Were Your Clothes?" Eliciting Descriptions Of Clothing Placement From Children Alleging Sexual Abuse In Criminal Trials And Forensic Interviews, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Thomas D. Lyon

University of Southern California Legal Studies Working Paper Series

Purpose: The present study examined how children alleging sexual abuse are asked about clothing placement during abusive episodes, both in criminal trials and forensic interviews. The placement of clothing is of great importance, because it facilitates distinguishing abusive touch from non-abusive touch, as well as the severity of abuse when the touching is in fact sexual. If clothing has not been removed, then sexual abuse appears less likely and certain types of sexual contact are physically impossible (or at least highly improbable). Methods: We examined how trial attorneys (n = 142) and forensic interviewers in investigative interviews (n = 155) questioned 5- ...


Racism, Juries, And Justice: Addressing Post-Verdict Juror Testimony Of Racial Prejudice During Deliberations, Andrew C. Helman Oct 2017

Racism, Juries, And Justice: Addressing Post-Verdict Juror Testimony Of Racial Prejudice During Deliberations, Andrew C. Helman

Maine Law Review

From the beginning, race played a role in the prosecution of Christopher McCowen for the rape and murder of well-known fashion writer Christa Worthington. To some, the trial was even a spectacle and treated as “one of the most spectacular homicide cases in [Massachusetts'] history.” It quickly became a “made-for-cable-news tale of the heiress fashion writer and her lowly Portuguese fisherman lover, illicit sex, and an out-of-wedlock child,” all set in a seaside village. McCowen, an African-American garbage man, was right in the middle of it; police and prosecutors did not believe his assertions that he had consensual sex with ...


"Another Day" Has Dawned: The Maine Supreme Judicial Court Holds Laboratory Evidence Subject To The Confrontation Clause In State V. Mangos, Reid Hayton-Hull Oct 2017

"Another Day" Has Dawned: The Maine Supreme Judicial Court Holds Laboratory Evidence Subject To The Confrontation Clause In State V. Mangos, Reid Hayton-Hull

Maine Law Review

The Sixth Amendment's Confrontation Clause guarantees criminal defendants the right to “confront witnesses against them.” Specifically, the Clause ensures a criminal defendant's right to confront witnesses who testify against him by the unique medium, or “crucible,” of cross-examination. Although federal and state rules of evidence prohibiting hearsay and the Confrontation Clause are designed to protect similar interests, whether or not admission of a piece of evidence violates a defendant's rights under the Confrontation Clause is a separate analysis than whether that same piece of evidence is admissible under a rule of evidence. In 2004, the United States ...


The Supreme Court's Long And Perhaps Unnecessary Struggle To Find A Standard Of Culpability To Regulate The Federal Exclusionary Remedy For Fourth/Fourteenth Amendment Violations, Melvyn H. Zarr Oct 2017

The Supreme Court's Long And Perhaps Unnecessary Struggle To Find A Standard Of Culpability To Regulate The Federal Exclusionary Remedy For Fourth/Fourteenth Amendment Violations, Melvyn H. Zarr

Maine Law Review

On January 14, 2009, the United States Supreme Court decided Herring v. United States. In Herring, the defendant moved to suppress evidence that he alleged was seized as a result of an arrest that violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The Supreme Court approved the decision below to deny suppression of the evidence. The decision set off a flurry of speculation that the Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule would not see its 100th birthday in 2014. A headline in the New York Times of January 31 declared: “Supreme Court Edging Closer to Repeal of Evidence Ruling ...


State V. Thurston: An Examination Of Assualt, Self-Defense, And Trespass In Relation To Domestic Violence, Megan E. Magoon Oct 2017

State V. Thurston: An Examination Of Assualt, Self-Defense, And Trespass In Relation To Domestic Violence, Megan E. Magoon

Maine Law Review

Darrell Thurston and Suzanne Harmon were romantically involved on an intermittent basis for five years and had one child together. As a result of an altercation that took place at Harmon’s home in Sullivan, Maine, on September 27, 2007, between Thurston and Harmon, Thurston was charged with assault, criminal mischief, and obstructing report of crime or injury. The testimony during the trial illuminated the major factual differences between Thurston’s and Harmon’s accounts of the night the incident took place. Thurston requested a self defense jury instruction based on his version of what had happened, which the trial ...


Findings Of Fact Vs. Conclusions Of Law: How The Law Court Complicated The Case Of State V. Connor, Christopher S. Boulos Oct 2017

Findings Of Fact Vs. Conclusions Of Law: How The Law Court Complicated The Case Of State V. Connor, Christopher S. Boulos

Maine Law Review

In State v. Connor, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, sitting as the Law Court, upheld a trial judge’s denial of a motion to suppress evidence. Although the evidence presented in the suppression hearing seemed adequate to support the denial of the motion, the trial judge failed to clearly state his conclusions of law when denying the motion. However, the Law Court mistook the ambiguous conclusions of law as ambiguous findings of fact. Because the findings of fact were ambiguous in the court’s view, the majority and dissenting opinions spent the bulk of their energies discussing how the court ...


Enough Is Enough: The Law Court's Decision To Functionally Raise The "Reasonable Connection" Relevancy Standard In State V. Mitchell, Robert P. Hayes Oct 2017

Enough Is Enough: The Law Court's Decision To Functionally Raise The "Reasonable Connection" Relevancy Standard In State V. Mitchell, Robert P. Hayes

Maine Law Review

In State v. Mitchell, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, sitting as the Law Court, affirmed a jury verdict finding Thomas Mitchell guilty of a 1983 murder. In doing so, the Law Court examined two issues: First, whether the trial court “abused its discretion in excluding evidence of an alternative suspect”; and second, whether the trial court’s decision to admit evidence stemming from an autopsy performed two decades before the trial violated the Confrontation Clause of the United States Constitution. In reaching the alternative suspect decision, the Law Court held that the evidence proffered by Mitchell did not establish a ...


Juror Assessment Of Certainty About Firearms Identification Evidence, Sarah L. Cooper, Paraic Scanlon Oct 2017

Juror Assessment Of Certainty About Firearms Identification Evidence, Sarah L. Cooper, Paraic Scanlon

University of Arkansas at Little Rock Law Review

No abstract provided.


Criminal Law—When The Pillow Talks: Arkansas's Rape Shield Statute Bars Dna Evidence Excluding The Defendant As The Source Of Semen. Thacker V. State, 2015 Ark. 406, 474 S.W.3d 65., Lacon Marie Smith Oct 2017

Criminal Law—When The Pillow Talks: Arkansas's Rape Shield Statute Bars Dna Evidence Excluding The Defendant As The Source Of Semen. Thacker V. State, 2015 Ark. 406, 474 S.W.3d 65., Lacon Marie Smith

University of Arkansas at Little Rock Law Review

No abstract provided.


The Unintended Consequences Of California Proposition 47: Reducing Law Enforcement’S Ability To Solve Serious, Violent Crimes, Shelby Kail Aug 2017

The Unintended Consequences Of California Proposition 47: Reducing Law Enforcement’S Ability To Solve Serious, Violent Crimes, Shelby Kail

Pepperdine Law Review

For many years, DNA databases have helped solve countless serious, violent crimes by connecting low-level offenders to unsolved crimes. Because the passage of Proposition 47 reduced several low-level crimes to misdemeanors, which do not qualify for DNA sample collection, Proposition 47 has severely limited law enforcement’s ability to solve serious, violent crimes through California’s DNA database and reliable DNA evidence. This powerful law enforcement tool must be preserved to prevent additional crimes from being committed, to exonerate the innocent, and to provide victims with closure through conviction of their assailants or offenders. Proposition 47’s unintended consequences have ...


Adjudicated Juveniles And Collateral Relief, Joshua A. Tepfer, Laura H. Nirider Jul 2017

Adjudicated Juveniles And Collateral Relief, Joshua A. Tepfer, Laura H. Nirider

Maine Law Review

Collateral relief is a vital part of the American criminal justice system. By filing post-conviction petitions after the close of direct appeal, defendants can raise claims based on evidence outside the record that was not known or available at the time of trial. One common use of post-conviction relief is to file a claim related to a previously unknown constitutional violation that occurred at trial, such as ineffective assistance of counsel. If a defendant’s trial attorney performed ineffectively by failing to call, for instance, an alibi witness, then that omission is unlikely to be reflected in the trial record ...


Commissioning Innocence And Restoring Confidence: The North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission And The Missing Deliberative Citizen, Mary Kelly Tate Jul 2017

Commissioning Innocence And Restoring Confidence: The North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission And The Missing Deliberative Citizen, Mary Kelly Tate

Maine Law Review

Since 1989, the United States has witnessed 289 DNA exonerations, with exonerees serving an average of thirteen years in prison. Although DNA an its unmatched power for the conclusive results is what brought popular attention to wrongful convictions, the scope of the problem is vastly larger than the number of known DNA exonerations. The actual number of convicted individuals who are factually innocent is unknown. The state of North Carolina has recently responded to this national crisis via a newly created state agency. This essay applauds North Carolina’s response, but urges that ordinary citizens, qua jurors, be active participants ...


The Forensic Community Can Educate Lawyers, Judges, Robert M. Sanger Jun 2017

The Forensic Community Can Educate Lawyers, Judges, Robert M. Sanger

Robert M. Sanger

Forensic science has made significant strides in elevating the standards for forensic analysis, reporting and testimony over the last few years. Yet, lawyers and judges lag far behind in understanding the significance of these strides. There is an attempt to educate law students in the law schools and to educate lawyers and judges through continuing legal and judicial education but it is slow in finding its way into the actual courtroom. Therefore, while there is progress at the highest levels of forensic science, a lot of "junk" science competes for the attention of jurors.

Forensic scientists can help educate the ...


Law Enforcement And Criminal Law Decisions, Erwin Chemerinsky Jun 2017

Law Enforcement And Criminal Law Decisions, Erwin Chemerinsky

Erwin Chemerinsky

No abstract provided.


The British Experience With Hearsay Reform: A Cautionary Tale, Mark S. Brodin May 2017

The British Experience With Hearsay Reform: A Cautionary Tale, Mark S. Brodin

Mark S. Brodin

Among the proposals being considered by the Advisory Committee on the Federal Rules of Evidence (“the Committee”) is the scrapping of the categorical exception regime for hearsay, leaving questions of reliability and admissibility ad hoc to district court judges along the lines of Federal Rules of Evidence (FRE) 403 and 807. Over the past decades, the British have moved toward this approach, and it is the purpose of this Article to identify the lessons that can be learned from that experience, especially with regard to criminal prosecutions and the right of confrontation.


Small Cells, Big Problems: The Increasing Precision Of Cell Site Location Information And The Need For Fourth Amendment Protections, Robert M. Bloom, William T. Clark May 2017

Small Cells, Big Problems: The Increasing Precision Of Cell Site Location Information And The Need For Fourth Amendment Protections, Robert M. Bloom, William T. Clark

Robert M. Bloom

The past fifty years has witnessed an evolution in technology advancement in police surveillance. Today, one of the essential tools of police surveillance is something most Americans carry with them in their pockets every day, the cell phone. Cell phones not only contain a huge repository of personal data, they also provide continuous surveillance of a person’s movement known as cell site location information (CSLI). In 1986, Congress sought to provide some privacy protections to CSLI in the Stored Communication Act. Although this solution may have struck the proper balance in an age when cell phones were a mere ...


59. Ask Versus Tell: Potential Confusion When Child Witnesses Are Questioned About Conversations, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Kelly Mcwilliams, Thomas D. Lyon May 2017

59. Ask Versus Tell: Potential Confusion When Child Witnesses Are Questioned About Conversations, Stacia N. Stolzenberg, Kelly Mcwilliams, Thomas D. Lyon

Thomas D. Lyon

Children’s potential confusion between “ask” and “tell” can lead to misunderstandings when child witnesses are asked to report prior conversations. The verbs distinguish both between interrogating and informing and between requesting and commanding. Children’s understanding was examined using both field (i.e., Study 1) and laboratory (i.e., Studies 2-4) methods. Study 1 examined 100 5- to 12-year-olds’ trial testimony in child sexual abuse cases, and found that potentially ambiguous use of ask and tell was common, typically found in yes/no questions that elicited unelaborated answers, and virtually never clarified by attorneys or child witnesses. Studies 2-4 ...


Physical Match: Unique Fracture Patterns In Wooden Popsicle Sticks, Yiu Ming Sunny Lau May 2017

Physical Match: Unique Fracture Patterns In Wooden Popsicle Sticks, Yiu Ming Sunny Lau

Themis: Research Journal of Justice Studies and Forensic Science

Physical match (or physical fit) evidence was considered reliable in court for years, until the Daubert case, which required standardized scientific methodology on all forensic evidence. Physical matching faces the same criticism as other forms of physical evidence (specifically, that it lacks a scientific foundation). Physical matching is based on the idea that when an object is fractured, the shape of each fragment is unique and it is not possible to recreate a fragment that is identical to any other. In this study, fifty wooden popsicle sticks were broken in half, the pieces were mixed, and then reconstructed using physical ...