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Completing The Quantum Of Evidence, Edward K. Cheng Jan 2021

Completing The Quantum Of Evidence, Edward K. Cheng

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

In "Evidentiary Irony and the Incomplete Rule of Completeness," Professors Daniel Capra and Liesa Richter comprehensively catalog the many shortcomings in current Federal Rule of Evidence 106 and craft a compelling reform proposal. Their proposal admirably solves the identified problems, keeps the rule reasonably succinct, and furthers the accuracy and fairness goals of the rules of evidence. In this Response, we focus on Capra & Richter's proposal to formally recognize a "trumping" power in Rule 106, which would allow an adverse party to offer a completing statement even if it would be "otherwise inadmissible under the rule against hearsay."


Reviving “Dead Letters”: Reimagining Federal Rule Of Evidence 410 As A Conditional Privilege, Peter G. Cornick Apr 2020

Reviving “Dead Letters”: Reimagining Federal Rule Of Evidence 410 As A Conditional Privilege, Peter G. Cornick

Vanderbilt Law Review

Though understudied relative to its fellow specialized relevance rules, Federal Rule of Evidence 410 protects a crucial element of the criminal justice system: plea negotiations. As written, the rule prevents the admission of evidence gathered during plea discussions, which helps assure criminal defendants that their candid discussions with prosecutors will not harm them in any future proceeding. But the Supreme Court has greatly weakened Rule 410, permitting broad waiver of the rule’s protections that run afoul of Congress’s purpose in creating the rule and its plain language. In light of these developments, the Note argues that Rule 410 ...


Conference On Best Practices For Managing Daubert Questions, Edward K. Cheng, D. J. Capra, Et Al Jan 2020

Conference On Best Practices For Managing Daubert Questions, Edward K. Cheng, D. J. Capra, Et Al

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

When we are talking about overstatement, is it so apparent that surely the jury could understand that? Or that on cross at trial, would the opposing counsel make that apparent so that the jury would deal with it on its own? Or is it overstatement, in ways that you normally see, in that it becomes opaque and therefore misleading to the jury and the jury would never be able to figure it out?


Unraveling Williams V. Illinois, Edward K. Cheng, Cara C. Mannion Jan 2020

Unraveling Williams V. Illinois, Edward K. Cheng, Cara C. Mannion

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

This Essay addresses one of the key evidentiary problems facing courts today: the treatment of forensic reports under the Confrontation Clause. Forensics are a staple of modern criminal trials, yet what restrictions the Confrontation Clause places on forensic reports is entirely unclear. The Supreme Court’s latest decision on the issue, Williams v. Illinois, sowed widespread confusion among lower courts and commentators, and during the 2018 Term, Justices Gorsuch and Kagan dissented to the denial of certiorari in Stuart v. Alabama, a case that would have revisited (and hopefully clarified) Williams.

Our Essay dispels the confusion in Williams v. Illinois ...


The Future Of The Confrontation Clause: Semiautonomous And Autonomous Machine Witnesses, Brian Sites Jan 2020

The Future Of The Confrontation Clause: Semiautonomous And Autonomous Machine Witnesses, Brian Sites

Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law

How should the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth Amendment be interpreted as to machine witnesses? Courts across the country have resisted efforts to cross-examine the human agents who assist machines that generate data used in criminal trials. Such challenges under the Confrontation Clause have been rejected directly and in great number, and the rules of evidence are largely being read to not require the testimony of those who have the best information about the machine's use for the case at hand. This problem arises in an era of machine exceptionalism and widespread use. From increasingly sophisticated forensic lab tools ...


The Exclusionary Rule In The Age Of Blue Data, Andrew G. Ferguson Mar 2019

The Exclusionary Rule In The Age Of Blue Data, Andrew G. Ferguson

Vanderbilt Law Review

In Herring v. United States, Chief Justice John Roberts reframed the Supreme Court's understanding of the exclusionary rule: "As laid out in our cases, the exclusionary rule serves to deter deliberate, reckless, or grossly negligent conduct, or in some circumstances recurring or systemic negligence." The open question remains: How can defendants demonstrate sufficient recurring or systemic negligence to warrant exclusion? The Supreme Court has never answered the question, although the absence of systemic or recurring problems has figured prominently in two recent exclusionary rule decisions. Without the ability to document recurring failures or patterns of police misconduct, courts can ...


Beyond The Witness: Bringing A Process Perspective, Edward K. Cheng, G. Alexander Nunn Jan 2019

Beyond The Witness: Bringing A Process Perspective, Edward K. Cheng, G. Alexander Nunn

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

For centuries, the foundation of the Anglo-American trial has been the witness.' Witnesses report on their personal observations, provide opinions of character, offer scientific explanations, and in the case of parties, narrate their own story. Indeed, even for documentary and other physical evidence, witnesses often provide the conduit through which such evidence reaches the factfinder. Documentary or physical evidence rarely stands on its own. The law of evidence has thus unsurprisingly focused on-or perhaps obsessed over-witnesses. The hearsay rule and the Confrontation Clause demand that declarants be available witnesses at trial so that they may be subject to cross-examination.' Expert ...


Confidences Worth Keeping: Rebalancing Legitimate Interests In Litigants' Private Information In An Era Of Open-Access Courts, Jeffrey W. Sheehan Jan 2019

Confidences Worth Keeping: Rebalancing Legitimate Interests In Litigants' Private Information In An Era Of Open-Access Courts, Jeffrey W. Sheehan

Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law

The ideal of the public trial in open court continues to guide decisions about public access to courts and their records, even as cases are increasingly decided "on the papers." This is still the case when those "papers" take the form of electronic documents that can be uploaded, downloaded, copied, and distributed by anyone with an internet connection. A series of opinions from the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reinforcing this ideal of public access to court records and unsealing district court filings offers an opening to reconsider core values that must inform our treatment of private ...


Forensics, Chicken Soup, And Meteorites: A Tribute To Michael Risinger, Edward K. Cheng Jan 2018

Forensics, Chicken Soup, And Meteorites: A Tribute To Michael Risinger, Edward K. Cheng

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Michael Risinger's scholarship has had a profound impact on our field. And while his work has run the gamut in evidence law, I think it is clear that Michael's true love has always been expert evidence, and more specifically, forensics. So let me take a moment to revisit "an oldie but a goodie": his 1989 article entitled Exorcism of Ignorance as a Proxy for Rational Knowledge: The Lessons of Handwriting Identification "Expertise," published in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, and co-authored with Mark Denbeaux and Michael Saks.' For those of you who have not read the article ...


Surprise Vs. Probability As A Metric For Proof, Edward K. Cheng, Matthew Ginther Jan 2018

Surprise Vs. Probability As A Metric For Proof, Edward K. Cheng, Matthew Ginther

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

In this Symposium issue celebrating his career, Professor Michael Risinger in Leveraging Surprise proposes using "the fundamental emotion of surprise" as a way of measuring belief for purposes of legal proof. More specifically, Professor Risinger argues that we should not conceive of the burden of proof in terms of probabilities such as 51%, 95%, or even "beyond a reasonable doubt." Rather, the legal system should reference the threshold using "words of estimative surprise" -asking jurors how surprised they would be if the fact in question were not true. Toward this goal (and being averse to cardinality), he suggests categories such ...


When Discretion To Record Becomes Assertive: Body Camera Footage As Hearsay, Natalie P. Pike Jan 2018

When Discretion To Record Becomes Assertive: Body Camera Footage As Hearsay, Natalie P. Pike

Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law

As police body camera footage pervades courtrooms across the country as evidence in criminal trials, courts must reevaluate whether, and under which evidentiary frameworks, they will admit the footage to prove that what the footage depicts is true. This Note analyzes the frameworks under which courts have historically admitted filmic evidence: namely, through authentication and as demonstrative evidence. It concludes that body camera footage is distinct from evidence traditionally admitted through those frameworks because body camera footage is akin to an officer's assertive statement--the officer has discretion to activate and aim the body camera. Courts should therefore exclude the ...


I See Dead People: Examining The Admissibility Of Living-Victim Photographs In Murder Trials, Susanna Rychlak Oct 2016

I See Dead People: Examining The Admissibility Of Living-Victim Photographs In Murder Trials, Susanna Rychlak

Vanderbilt Law Review

In the summer of 2015, the Tennessee legislature debated and passed the "Victim Life Photo Act," which went into effect on July 1, 2015. This law states: "In a prosecution for any criminal homicide, an appropriate photograph of the victim while alive shall be admissible evidence when offered by the district attorney general to show the general appearance and condition of the victim while alive." Victims' rights groups lobbied for this and similar laws throughout the country, which were then enacted by state legislatures. Though these laws amended rules of evidence, the considerations under which they were passed were largely ...


Bruton On Balance: Standardizing Redacted Codefendant Confessions Through Federal Rule Of Evidence 403, Margaret Dodson Apr 2016

Bruton On Balance: Standardizing Redacted Codefendant Confessions Through Federal Rule Of Evidence 403, Margaret Dodson

Vanderbilt Law Review

Joint criminal trials are a relatively common practice in the American criminal justice system. When multiple criminal defendants are charged in a single crime-especially in conspiracy cases-courts and prosecutors alike favor joint trials because of their comparable efficiency to individual trials. However, joint trials can raise significant procedural and constitutional concerns for codefendants. One such issue arises when the government seeks to introduce the confession of a non-testifying defendant (hereinafter a "declarantdefendant") that inculpates other codefendants.

When introduced, such confessions raise potential Sixth Amendment issues under Bruton v. United States. A Bruton violation occurs in a joint trial when a ...


The Incompatibility Of Due Process And Naked Statistical Evidence, G. Alexander Nunn Oct 2015

The Incompatibility Of Due Process And Naked Statistical Evidence, G. Alexander Nunn

Vanderbilt Law Review

Qualitative evidence is a cornerstone of the modern trial system. Parties often invoke eyewitness testimony, character witnesses, or other forms of direct and circumstantial evidence when seeking to advance their case in the courtroom, enabling jurors to reach a verdict after weighing two competing narratives.' But what if testimonial, experience-based evidence were removed from trials? In a legal system that draws its legitimacy from centuries of tradition-emphasizing notions of fairness even above absolute accuracy. Would a jury, not to mention the public at large, reject a verdict that imposes liability or guilt on a defendant in the complete absence of ...


Confrontation And The Law Of Evidence: Can The Language Conduit Theory Survive In The Wake Of Crawford?, Tom S. Xu Oct 2014

Confrontation And The Law Of Evidence: Can The Language Conduit Theory Survive In The Wake Of Crawford?, Tom S. Xu

Vanderbilt Law Review

A foreign traveler flies into John F. Kennedy International Airport, supposedly on a business trip. At the airport, a customs inspector detains him after discovering what appear to be bags of cocaine concealed in his luggage. The traveler speaks limited English, so the inspector requests the aid of a certified government interpreter to question him. An English-speaking Drug Enforcement Administration ("DEA") agent thereafter interrogates the traveler by having the interpreter translate his questions to Spanish, the traveler's native tongue. The interpreter then translates the traveler's responses from Spanish to English, and the inspector records the translated responses. At ...


Neuroscientists In Court, Owen D. Jones, Anthony D. Wagner, David L. Faigman, Marcus E. Raichle Jan 2014

Neuroscientists In Court, Owen D. Jones, Anthony D. Wagner, David L. Faigman, Marcus E. Raichle

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Neuroscientific evidence is increasingly being offered in court cases. Consequently, the legal system needs neuroscientists to act as expert witnesses who can explain the limitations and interpretations of neuroscientific findings so that judges and jurors can make informed and appropriate inferences. The growing role of neuroscientists in court means that neuroscientists should be aware of important differences between the scientific and legal fields, and, especially, how scientific facts can be easily misunderstood by non-scientists,including judges and jurors.

This article describes similarities, as well as key differences, of legal and scientific cultures. And it explains six key principles about neuroscience ...


The Nature And Purpose Of Evidence Theory, Michael S. Pardo Mar 2013

The Nature And Purpose Of Evidence Theory, Michael S. Pardo

Vanderbilt Law Review

pproximately twenty-five years ago, Professor Richard Lempert, reflecting on the then-current state of evidence scholarship, noted a dramatic shift underway.' He described what had become a largely "moribund" field giving way to a burgeoning "new evidence scholarship." The scholarship in the moribund phase employed "a timid kind of deconstructionism with no overarching critical theory," was "seldom interesting," and any "potential utility" was "rarely realized"; Lempert proposed the following mock article title as a model representing the genre: "What's Wrong with the Twenty-Ninth Exception to the Hearsay Rule and How the Addition of Three Words Can Correct the Problem." By ...


Being Pragmatic About Forensic Linguistics, Edward K. Cheng Jan 2013

Being Pragmatic About Forensic Linguistics, Edward K. Cheng

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

This article aims to provide some legal context to the Authorship Attribution Workshop (“conference”). In particular, I want to offer some pragmatic observations on what courts will likely demand of forensic linguistics experts and tentatively suggest what the field should aspire to in both the short and long run.


Reconceptualizing The Burden Of Proof, Edward K. Cheng Jan 2013

Reconceptualizing The Burden Of Proof, Edward K. Cheng

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

The preponderance standard is conventionally described as an absolute probability threshold of 0.5. This Essay argues that this absolute characterization of the burden of proof is wrong. Rather than focusing on an absolute threshold, the Essay reconceptualizes the preponderance standard as a probability ratio and shows how doing so eliminates many of the classical problems associated with probabilistic theories of evidence. Using probability ratios eliminates the so-called Conjunction Paradox, and developing the ratio tests under a Bayesian perspective further explains the Blue Bus problem and other puzzles surrounding statistical evidence. By harmonizing probabilistic theories of proof with recent critiques ...


Book Review: Burden Of Proof: A Review Of Math On Trial, Paul H. Edelman Jan 2013

Book Review: Burden Of Proof: A Review Of Math On Trial, Paul H. Edelman

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

In Math on Trial, Leila Schneps and Coralie Col­ mez write about the abuse of mathematical argu­ ments in criminal trials and how these flawed arguments "have sent innocent people to prison" (p. ix). Indeed, people "saw their lives ripped apart by simple mathematical errors." The purpose of focusing on these errors, despite mathematics' "relatively rare use in trials" (p. x), is "that many of the common mathematical fallacies that pervade the public sphere are perfectly represented by these trials. Thus they serve as ideal illustrations of these errors and of the drastic consequences that faulty reasoning has on real ...


Music And Emotion In Victim-Impact Evidence, Emily C. Green Jan 2013

Music And Emotion In Victim-Impact Evidence, Emily C. Green

Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law

Aristotle famously said that the "law is reason free from passion," and nothing arouses passion better than music. Thus, when victim-impact evidence evolved from simple oral statements to include photographs, video footage, and musical clips, scholars and judges alike expressed concern that music might be too emotional and may make it difficult for the jury to make a rational decision based on logic rather than feeling. Recent scholarship in the field of law and emotion, however, notes that emotions are inevitable in law and further suggests that these emotions can be used constructively in the legal system. Thus, musically induced ...


When 10 Trials Are Better Than 1000: An Evidentiary Perspective On Trial Sampling, Edward K. Cheng Jan 2012

When 10 Trials Are Better Than 1000: An Evidentiary Perspective On Trial Sampling, Edward K. Cheng

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

In many mass tort cases, separately trying all individual claims is impractical, and thus a number of trial courts and commentators have explored the use of statistical sampling as a way of efficiently processing claims. Most discussions on the topic, however, implicitly assume that sampling is a “second best” solution: individual trials are preferred for accuracy, and sampling only justified under extraordinary circumstances. This Essay explores whether this assumption is really true. While intuitively one might think that individual trials would be more accurate at estimating liability than extrapolating from a subset of cases, the Essay offers three ways in ...


Erie And The Rules Of Evidence, Edward K. Cheng Jan 2012

Erie And The Rules Of Evidence, Edward K. Cheng

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Jay Tidmarsh offers an intriguing new test for drawing the allimportant line between procedure and substance for purposes of Erie. The Tidmarsh test is attractively simple, yet seemingly reaches the right result in separating out truly “procedural” rules from more substantive ones. Since I am not a proceduralist, in this Response I will leave the Tidmarsh test’s explanatory power and practical workability vis-à-vis general civil procedure rules to others more qualified than I. Instead, I want to focus on the implications of the Tidmarsh test for the Federal Rules of Evidence. Like others in the evidence world, I have ...


The Risks Of Taking Facebook At Face Value: Why The Psychology Of Social Networking Should Influence The Evidentiary Relevance Of Facebook Photographs, Kathryn R. Brown Jan 2012

The Risks Of Taking Facebook At Face Value: Why The Psychology Of Social Networking Should Influence The Evidentiary Relevance Of Facebook Photographs, Kathryn R. Brown

Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law

Social networking sites in general, and Facebook in particular, have changed the way individuals communicate and express themselves. Facebook users share a multitude of personal information through the website, especially photographs. Additionally, Facebook enables individuals to tailor their online profiles to project a desired persona. However, as social scientists have demonstrated, the image users portray can mislead outside observers. Given the wealth of information available on Facebook, it is no surprise that attorneys often peruse the website for evidence to dispute opponents' claims.

This Note examines the admission and relevance of Facebook photographs offered to prove a litigant's state ...


Compelled Production Of Encrypted Data, John E.D. Larkin Jan 2012

Compelled Production Of Encrypted Data, John E.D. Larkin

Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law

There is a myth that shadowy and powerful government agencies can crack the encryption software that criminals use to protect computers filled with child pornography and stolen credit card numbers. The reality is that cheap or free encryption programs can place protected data beyond law enforcement's reach. If courts seriously mean to protect the victims of Internet crime--all too often children--then Congress must adopt a legal mechanism to remedy the technological deficiency.

To date, police and prosecutors have relied on subpoenas to either compel defendants to produce their password, or to decipher their protected data. This technique has been ...


Plea Bargaining, Discovery, And The Intractable Problem Of Impeachment Disclosures, R. Michael Cassidy Oct 2011

Plea Bargaining, Discovery, And The Intractable Problem Of Impeachment Disclosures, R. Michael Cassidy

Vanderbilt Law Review

Several recent high-profile cases have illustrated flaws with the government's discovery practices in criminal cases and have put prosecutors across the country on the defensive about their compliance with disclosure obligations. The conviction of former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens on ethics charges was set aside after it was revealed that federal prosecutors withheld notes of an interview with a key government witness; one member of the Stevens prosecution team who was under investigation for contempt subsequently committed suicide. The Supreme Court remanded a double murder case from Tennessee for potential resentencing after it was revealed that state prosecutors had ...


Brain Scans As Evidence: Truths, Proofs, Lies, And Lessons, Owen D. Jones, Francis X. Shen Jan 2011

Brain Scans As Evidence: Truths, Proofs, Lies, And Lessons, Owen D. Jones, Francis X. Shen

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

This contribution to the Brain Sciences in the Courtroom Symposium identifies and discusses issues important to admissibility determinations when courts confront brain-scan evidence. Through the vehicle of the landmark 2010 federal criminal trial U.S. v. Semrau (which considered, for the first time, the admissibility of brain scans for lie detection purposes) this article highlights critical evidentiary issues involving: 1) experimental design; 2) ecological and external validity; 3) subject compliance with researcher instructions; 4) false positives; and 5) drawing inferences about individuals from group data. The article’s lessons are broadly applicable to the new wave of neurolaw cases now ...


Scientific Evidence As Foreign Law, Edward K. Cheng Jan 2010

Scientific Evidence As Foreign Law, Edward K. Cheng

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Most contemporary debates about scientific evidence focus on admissibility under Daubert and the Federal Rules of Evidence. That bias is quite understandable-after all, it is the framework imposed by the United States Supreme Court. Daubert, however, rests on a fundamental assumption: that courts should treat scientific facts like any other adjudicative facts ultimately left to the jury. Perhaps the involvement of specialized knowledge requires judges to act as gatekeepers to ensure some basic level of reliability, but under Daubert, scientific facts are still just facts. As I will argue, scientific facts fit awkwardly into the conventional framework for conceptualizing and ...


Not Guilty By Reason Of Neuroimaging: The Need For Cautionary Jury Instructions For Neuroscience Evidence In Criminal Trials, E. Spencer Compton Jan 2010

Not Guilty By Reason Of Neuroimaging: The Need For Cautionary Jury Instructions For Neuroscience Evidence In Criminal Trials, E. Spencer Compton

Vanderbilt Journal of Entertainment & Technology Law

Neuroimaging technology gives researchers the ability to see structures and functions of the human brain. As the technology advances, it is beginning to change the way the legal field understands the brain and its impact on legal concepts of capacity, sanity, guilt, and innocence. However, the sophisticated technology poses risks that juries will misunderstand the limits of the science or misapply the technical findings to a particular case. To combat the risk of undue prejudice, this Note proposes a cautionary jury instruction designed to remind jurors of the technical and legal limits of bringing neuroimages into the courtroom.


Will Quants Rule The (Legal) World?, Edward K. Cheng Jan 2009

Will Quants Rule The (Legal) World?, Edward K. Cheng

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Professor Ian Ayres, in his new book, Super Crunchers, details the brave new world of statistical prediction and how it has already begun to affect our lives. For years, academic researchers have known about the considerable and at times surprising advantages of statistical models over the considered judgments of experienced clinicians and experts. Today, these models are emerging all over the landscape. Whether the field is wine, baseball, medicine, or consumer relations, they are vying against traditional experts for control over how we make decisions. For the legal system, the take-home of Ayres's book and the examples he describes ...