Case Studies Analysis on the Admissibility of the Federal Rules of Evidences.
Case Studies Analysis on the Admissibility of the Federal Rules of Evidences
In the United States Supremes and the court of appeals, several landmark cases have resulted from appeals from defendants on the ground of unfair and improper admissibility of evidence. The US supreme court adopted the Federal Rules of Evidence,1972 and has undergone numerous amendments. These rules codify evidence used in the federal outs. The different states may have minimal variations to the rules to fit that particular state’s jurisdictional laws. The Federal rules of evidence, regulate the evidence used by a jury before their final verdict, by encouraging the closure of cases and eliminating cases of mistrust. The federal rules of evidence contain 11 articles, whereby the 67 numbered rules are divided among (Friedland, 2019). This discourse seeks to analyze cases concerning some rules provided by the federal rules of evidence. These include Rape Shield Law, habit and routine, hearsay issues, and finally, the issue of excited utterances while highlighting their relevance.
The relevance of the Rape Shield Law and FRE 412
Summit v. state supreme court of Nevada
In the case of Summit v. State Supreme court of Nevada, the grand jury convicted Summit for two sexual assaults counts. Summit was accused of sexually assaulting a six-year-old girl. The defendant sought to introduce evidence of the victim’s prior sexual assault, claiming that the victim’s prior independent knowledge of the acts that had happened two years before the crime in the issue. Summit claimed that the victim and her nine-year-old girlfriend had been involved in a sexual assault. However, the court dismissed the admission of pieces of evidence and convicted him of the offenses. Nevada had enacted the rape shield law to protect rape and sexual assault victims during trials (Hawkins, 2016).
Rape shield law was enacted to prohibit the introduction or cross-examination of rape and sexual assault victims of their past sexual history by the defendant’s defense counsel. Additionally, the law prohibits public identification of these victims by the media. Moreover, during trials, the victims’ names are withheld to protect them from humiliation and embarrassments.in cases where children are involved, to avoid having them testify before their offender; thus, children are allowed to testify in the judge’s chamber to prevent them from the emotional trauma of facing their abusers (Justia, 1985). The case was appealed on the grounds of the rape shield law under the Federal Rules OF Evidence 412, questioning the admissibility of the rape shield law following the victim’s prior sexual experience in question. The defendant uses this as the defense while appealing his conviction. Following the Nevada revised statue sections, it prohibits the inquiry of a victim’s previous sexual history in a sexual assault case.
The rape shield played an imperative role in ensuring that justice prevailed for the six-year-old despite her previous sexual history, having suffered sexual assault by not letting Summit get away with the sexual assaults case on the grounds of her independent knowledge on sex. Being a young girl, the sexual relations was without her consent, so irrespective of the number of instances of assaults, children abuser must face the full wrath of the law (Hawkins, 2016). Secondly, the statutes were enacted to encourage rape as sexual assault victims to come forward and seek justice, knowing that they will not be subjected to any humiliations and assaults by the defendant’s counsel. Third, the rape shield reverses the rule of the common law whereby the use of evidence is considered to infer consent and repute the victim’s credibility. Many women suffer humiliation and mortification after becoming victims of rape or sexual assaults for fear of embarrassment in the trial; thus, they opt to keep it to themselves and forfeit the pursuit of justice. Due to this, it has led to an increase in the number of unreported sexual assaults and rape cases.
According to statistics, approximately 43% of sexual assault cases are children who may not face their abusers during trials courageously. The rape shield law has come in handy to fulfill the pursuit of justice for the innocent children who may not adequately argue their cases in Infront of their molesters without fear or a possible nervous breakdown. Rape and other forms of sexual assaults is a very distinct form of crime that brings out fresh memories every time the defendant and painful are brought face to face in the court of law. While most victims fear the humiliation of expressing their pains, the law has come in handy to fight for the rights of those vulnerable persons in society (Justia, 1985).
Tentatively, defendants have challenged the rape shield’s constitutionality on counts that the law violates the rights to confront their accusers and due process. They critic the laws claiming that it limits the defendant from defending himself. This has resulted in a lot of innocent people convicted for life, failure to defend themselves before a court of law. in most cases the constitutionally of these laws have been upheld as courts fulfilled the state’s interest of shielding rape and sexual assaults victims for humiliation during the trial process (Justia, 1985). However, the rape shield law excludes this form of evidence in cases whereby its admissibility compels the constitution by violating the defendant’s rights failure to include the victim’s prior sexual history.
Weil v seltzer, United States Courts of Appeals
Federal rules of evidence, issue of habit and routine
In the case of Weil vs. Seltzer, Weil representatives, the Martin Weils estate, accused Dr. Alvin Seltzer of Weil’s death, who died unexpectedly. Following an autopsy on his body, it revealed that his long-term illness attributed the medical conditions resulting in his death due to steroids’ ingestions. Dr, seltzer had prescribed steroids in which martin knew to be antihistamines. Further, the investigations, the doctor had prescribed steroids to the deceased during two moths immediately preceding to his death. The autopsy results indicated a chronic use of steroids. During the investigation, the plaintiffs discovered that the doctor had administered the steroids cautiously to his other patients while duping the to believe that the does were antihistamines.
In this case, Seltzers objected to the court ruling. However, five of his former patients came forward to testify against him. Their testimonies were admissible in the court of law following the provisions under rule 406 of the federal rules of evidence. The court ruled that the doctor had been deceiving his patients, and administering steroids in this manner was a habit. Thus, the court ruled in favor of the evidence (Weil v seltzer, 1985). Thus, the court ruled in favor of Weils representatives.
Seltzer appealed the ruling on the grounds of improper evidence admissibility. Evidence of habit and routine habit is used to prove occasions whereby an individual acted in a consistent manner coupled with habit. This evidence is admissible in a court within trials to prove behavior and conform to a particular occasion’s specified behavior. The presiding judge will determine the number of occurrences of the behavior before deeming it a habit. Secondly, the regularity of the behavior, degree of behavior; thus, the judge evaluates the factors followed by the judge (Weil v seltzer, 1985).
The evidence of his medical purchases indicated the frequency in which Dr. Seltzer prescribed the steroids to his log term patients through the years. Whereby records indicated that he da purchases approximately over 10,0000 tablets of steroids. Further research indicated that the doctor had purchased over 1.7 million steroid bills between 1980and 1984 Another discovery indicated that the doctor had mislabeled the bottles and boxes containing the drugs with the steroids with representations of antihistamine decongestants (Weil v seltzer, 1985). By altering the labels of the prescription, Dr. Seltzer had defied the rules of patient safety. Under the FRE 460, his purchase had risen into a habit, in an on invariable regularity, thus, becoming probative.
The initial trial favored the appellant, Dt. Seltzer following the evidence calming negligence to follow instructions from the clients. This led to the plaintiff, appeal the verdict, consequently lead to a new trial whereby the judge concluded that the instructions were reviewed; thus, the ruled in favor of the Weils estate on account of habit and routine from Dr. Seltzer. His act of prescribing the steroid in period if 20 years consistently resulted in a habit. The provisions of these rules have been used in several instances, especially in medical-related cases marred with several instances of malpractice from practitioners who deceive their patients by offering different prescriptions in place of the intended one, this has led to numerous erroneous deaths, that could have been avoided, like in the case of Weil’s death(Weil v seltzer, 1985).
Commonwealth V. Farris Superior Court of Pennsylvania
Federal rule of evidence (801) issue of hearsay
In commonwealth v Farris, Emmanuel Farris, the defends, was charged with a scheme to commit burglary. However, during the trial, his identification at the crime scene brought many controversies during his trial. The judge questioned the detective involved if he questioned Gary Moore, another perpetrator who had been charged for committing burglary. The detective confirmed that he had (Lau, 2016). He further stated that he had apprehended Emmanuel following a lead from the information he had obtained from Gary, and consequently arrested Farris. During the trial, the detective explained the arrest events as Gary did not testify during the hearing.
Following the conviction, Farris appealed his sentencing because the testimony from the detectives was improperly admitted. The events following the arrest, the detective, was off duty, when an armed man broke into the Tavern, ordering all the people inside to lie on their faces, The detective did not manage to see both their faces nor identify the suspects, however, he managed to repay the license number of their vehicle and the face of one of the burglars, who he later identified as Gary Moore. After Gary was apprehended and questioned, he claimed that the other accomplice was Emmanuel Faris (Lau, 2016).
Farris, objected claiming that the information was heard say thus inadmissible. Still, the judge refutes his claims on the bias that the detective’s admission while describing the arrest was substantive evidence and thus admissible in a court of law, refuting the hearsay claims from the defendant. According to Rule 802, the rule against hearsay is not admissible unless it is provided by the rules of the supreme court or the federal state (Lau, 2016). Hearsay should be considered after determined with sufficient information the elements of the offense, proofing, the damage, non-permitted use of and the value of the property in question. As a result of this, the defendant raised concerns on his to identify, claiming that it was hearsay and that the detective had identified and placed him in the crime scene. The court dismissed, and the defendant was convicted following the admission and by the detective.
City of Dallas v Donovan, the court of Appeals Texas
Federal rules of evidence (803) issue of excited utterances
In the case of Dallas v Donovan, the plaintiffs, the Donovan family, were involved in a car accident that resulted from a broken traffic stop sign. Consequently, they sued the city of Dallas, attributing the fault to their negligence. During the hearing, the jury determined that a third party had destroyed the sign. The city of Dallas was liable but only om condition that it did not replace the ding within the stipulated time after a notice (Saltzburg, 2019). A government entity is immune from liability for damages subsequent from the third-party destruction of traffic infrastructure unless the government fails to repair or replace the traffic sighs within a stipulated time following the actual notice. Thus, this failure to replace the notice was the proximate cause of the accident. Furthermore, investigations indicated that the notice had been submitted by a woman who, a few days before the accident had noticed that the stop sign was down.
An excited utterance under the classification of the law of evidence is a statement made by an individual when reacting to a shocking incident and is usually inadvertent. For it to be admissible as evidence, the response must be spontaneously made by a declarant under the incident’s stress of excitement. The excitement of utterances among the evidence excluded from the gossip in the federal rules of evidence. This evidence’s admissibility is highly dependent on the spontaneity of the declaration at the time of the shocking incident. Moreover, the statement must be concerning the startling event. Notably, to ascertain the spontaneity, three key elements are considered, the contents of the response, time-lapse and the demeanor of the declarant. In Donavan’s case, the woman drove by the scene of the accident shortly after it occurred. The eye witness in the case, Backhaus, stated that the lady’s reaction to the accident’s site was emotionally coupled with shock. He further testified that the lady had further stated that she had submitted a notice a few days before the Donavan’s family accident; thus, the city had not acted within the stipulated time or replaced the stop sigh despite the notice. The court, thus, admitted that the woman’s statements were admissible under the utterances of excited. It ruled in favor of Donavan’s (Justia, 2018). ‘
The city appealed, claiming that the woman had no relationship to the event; Donavan argued that the woman’s probative statement was concerning the causative of the accident and not necessarily about the accident; thus, it was admissible. By contending that the evidence as insufficient, the jury, on the other hand, found the woman’s notice to be reasonable evidence and substantially correct, thus admissible. Thus, the court’s point of error is overruled as the trial court judgment is affirmative (Saltzburg, 2019). Additionally, The city of Dallas appealed the ruling claiming that the court erred by using hearsay testimony with little and insufficient testimony to support the judgment, contending that the admissibility of hearsay, however, he plaintiff, argued that the woman’s statement was admissible based on rule 803 under the provisions of Texas rules of civil evidence, classified under the law of evidence, utterances of excitement. Thus, in this case, the city was not immune but rather liable for the damages caused by Donovan’s accidents since it had failed to replace the traffic sign within a reasonable time (Justia, 2018). Thus, the jury found the city liable and their failure to act upon the notice’s receipt, a proximate cause of Collison.
The federal rules of evidence have played an imperative role in shaping the verdict so many criminal and civil cases in American courts today. Before its enactments, many errors were committed by both the jury and other law enforcement professionals there was not a standardized point of reference to ascertain the admissibility of some forms of evidence, today, the rule has helped some of the most complicated cases in America, such as those of rape and sex assaults, between the people versus the state and the medical fraternity that is marred with a lot of inconsistencies (Friedland, 2019). The admissibility of these cases varies from one case to the next, while it might be admissible one case, the seam evidence might be excluded in the next. Moreover, it has ruled out on the uncertainties of evidence created by hearsays, giving it purpose in the criminal justice and it applicably in pursuit of justice. For justice to prevail, all available information must be exhausted in due process.
The Federal Rules of Evidence have revolutionized the criminal and civil trials in the American courts by governing the evidence introduced and their admissibility. Therefore, it has enhanced the uniformity across the courts through the admission and exclusion of certain forms of evidence in the federal courts. The rule of law determines the evidence’s admissibility for one purpose while it is excluded in another, most of the rules. For instance, the rape shield was enacted to protect the vulnerable victims of rape and sexual assault from their defendant’s counsel’s humiliation. Furthermore, encouraging more victims to seek justice rest assured that their identification and prior sex history would be withheld. Additionally, the courts have analyzed hearsay testimony’s admissibility, or excited utterances to clarify and prosecute the guilty parties despite their appeals. The provision of the federal rules of evidence has facilitated the closure of many cases, which would otherwise be still pending for lack of sufficient evidence.
Friedland, S. (2019). Re-chunking the Federal Rules of Evidence. Criminal Law Bulletin, Forthcoming.
Hawkins, D. (2016). Rape Shield Law. Wisconsin Law Journal.
Lau, T. T. (2016). Reliability of Present Sense Impression Hearsay Evidence. Gonz. L. Rev., 52, 175.
Saltzburg, S. A. (2019). Defendant’s Excited Utterance. Criminal Justice, 34(3), 54-56.
(Weil v seltzer, 1985) https://casetext.com/case/weil-v-seltzer(Retrieved August 26, 2020)
(Justia, 1985)https://law.justia.com/cases/nevada/supreme-court/1985/14022-1.html (Retrieved August 26, 2020)
(Justia, 2018) https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/377/408/Donovan v. City of Dallas, 377 U.S. 408 (1964)