Constitutional Law Assignment 1
Select four recent US Supreme Court cases that pertain to public policy issues. Brief each case decision and explain how the positions taken are consistent with or depart from the traditional party positions for each justice.
Constitutional Law Assigment 2
Select four Amendments from the Bill of Rights. Research three key cases addressing each Amendment. Prepare a memorandum explaining the issues associated with balancing individual rights and societal needs for each Amendment and where you think the court would come out if faced with making a ruling based on the current court composition.
Evidence Assignment 1
#1 Prentice Prosecutor is prosecuting Daniel Defendant for second-degree murder. At a jury trial the following occurred:
A. Although the defense has stipulated to Daniel having committed prior crimes with a similar pattern, Prentice wants to admit a 911 call recording and copy of the transcript from the victim slowly dying as a result of that pattern of killing to prove such pattern.
B. Winona Witness testifies that he was there when the police confronted Daniel about the crime and that, when they accused Daniel of committing the crime, he just stared at them and did not reply.
C. Matty Mathematician Expert Witness testifies that according to his analysis of the crime scene using numerology, Daniel clearly would never kill in the way described by the prosecution.
D. In her closing statement, Prentice states, “If the Defendant were innocent, he would have testified. Clearly he’s guilty as sin.”
Identify all possible evidentiary issues. Analyze the issues and apply applicable rules of evidence (either federal or rules from your state) to reach conclusions. Support your conclusions with detailed analysis.
Evidence Assignment 2
#2 Assignment II – Part I: Testimony:
Pete Plaintiff sued Don Defendant for painting his car negligently and is seeking as damages the cost of having the job redone. At a jury trial the following occurred:
(A) Pete testified that, after he saw his new paint job, he called Don. Pete testified that Don said, (1) ‘Right after I got done with the car, I fixed that paint for next time;’ and (2) ‘I’m sorry, man.’
(B) Don testified that the call was very upsetting and he went to his doctor. Don testified that while there seeking treatment about the headache, he told the doctor, ‘I can’t believe I messed up Pete’s car.’
(C) Witness Will testified that Pete told him, ‘I brought my car in late for the appointment. Don probably had to haul butt to get it done in time.
Issue A (1): Is the statement made by Don Defendant, “Right after I got done with the car, I fixed that paint for next time” admissible? What are the legal objections to its admissibility?
Issue A (2): Should the statement “I’m sorry man” allegedly made by Don Defendant be admitted?
Issue B: Should the statement the Don Defendant made to his doctor concerning his disbelief about what happened to plaintiff’s car be admitted?
Issue C: Is the statement by witness Will, concerning what the plaintiff told him, admissible?
Assignment II – Part II – Chain of custody
On December 30, 2005, Fort Bend County Sherriff’s Deputy Doug Patterson and his partner pulled over Ms. Sally Smitherton’s vehicle citing that the car had a broken tail light and ran a red light. Ms. Smitherton was driving at the time of the incident and was asked to produce her driver’s license. Upon reviewing the driver’s license, Deputy Patterson asked Ms. Smitherton to step out of her vehicle; he claimed that she appeared to be agitated, nervous and was reluctant to get out of the vehicle.
Once out of the car, Deputy Patterson prepared to engage in a pat-down and Ms. Smitherton tried to flee the scene. She was apprehended and searched by Deputy Patterson. He found what was later identified as 29 grams of cocaine on her.
At trial, Deputy Patterson testified that he bagged the evidence discovered at the scene, sealed it, marked it “with the proper documentation, dropped it into the overnight lock box” and had no further contact with it once he returned to his office shortly after the arrest (Kaplan, 2007). Afterwards, the state called the State chemist, Janet Trujillo, who testified to testing the evidence. State chemist Trujillo claimed that she retrieved the evidence from the Fort Bend County Medical Examiner’s Office evidence locker. The state did not call any other witnesses concerning the management of the evidence. After the prosecutor presented his case, Ms. Smitherton’s attorney moved for a directed verdict stating that there was a break in the chain of custody. This request was denied by the trial judge. Ms. Smitherton was found guilty and wants to appeal her conviction.
Issues for analysis:
1.) Did the trial court err in admitting the substance into evidence after realizing there was a gap in the State’s chain of custody?
2.) Does a gap in the chain of custody render the evidence in question inadmissible?
3.) What is the standard of admissibility for evidence as it pertains to the chain of custody?
Address the issues for analysis, reaching conclusions based on the identification and analysis of applicable Rules of Evidence (either federal or state).