Exploring New Approaches to Unsettled Legal Questions

Tag: Jerome Prince Memorial Evidence Competition

Gatekeeping or Gaslighting? How Courts Mislead Juries by Excluding Expert Testimony on the Accuracy of Eyewitness Identifications

by Zoe Farkas*

His­tor­i­cal­ly, eye­wit­ness iden­ti­fi­ca­tions have been con­sid­ered the gold stan­dard of tri­al evi­dence. There’s lit­tle that’s more con­vinc­ing than a wit­ness on the stand con­fi­dent­ly point­ing at a defen­dant and pro­claim­ing, under oath, “that’s the one!” How­ev­er, over the last half cen­tu­ry it has become clear that eye­wit­ness iden­ti­fi­ca­tion may actu­al­ly be one of the most fal­li­ble evi­den­tiary tools, despite com­mon mis­con­cep­tions of its accu­ra­cy. Even in the face of grow­ing research demon­strat­ing the unre­li­a­bil­i­ty of eye­wit­ness iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, courts have been slow to allow experts to tes­ti­fy to that unre­li­a­bil­i­ty in the court­room. Judges instead bar them as unqual­i­fied or unhelp­ful under Fed­er­al Rule of Evi­dence 702. This Con­tri­bu­tion argues that these experts are not only qual­i­fied and help­ful, but absolute­ly essen­tial to help juries ful­fill their fact-find­er duties.

The Fourth Amendment in the Digital Era: Applying the Private Search Doctrine to Flash Drives and Other Electronic Media Storage Devices

by William G. Walant*

There is cur­rent­ly a cir­cuit court split as to how the pri­vate search doc­trine, a judi­cial­ly-cre­at­ed frame­work under the Fourth Amend­ment, applies in the con­text of elec­tron­ic media stor­age devices, such as flash drives—either via a “nar­row approach” or a “broad approach.” With­out fur­ther guid­ance from the Supreme Court, police offi­cers in some juris­dic­tions are effec­tive­ly giv­en author­i­ty to end-run around the Fourth Amend­ment. In this Con­tri­bu­tion, William Walant (‘22) argues that the Supreme Court should adopt the “nar­row approach,” which focus­es on the unique nature of dig­i­tal media devices. This focus is embraced in Riley v. Cal­i­for­nia and is con­sis­tent with the pri­vate search doctrine’s under­ly­ing prin­ci­ples. How­ev­er, unlike as has been sug­gest­ed by some recent schol­ar­ship, the pri­vate search doc­trine need not be altered to fit elec­tron­ic media stor­age devices, and the nar­row approach does not cre­ate insur­mount­able and unde­sir­able con­se­quences. Instead, by adopt­ing a nar­row approach, the pri­vate search doc­trine can be pre­served while reach­ing a pos­i­tive out­come for soci­ety: an offi­cer, absent exi­gent cir­cum­stances or oth­er excep­tions, will be incen­tivized to obtain a war­rant to exam­ine the con­tents of an elec­tron­ic device hand­ed over by a pri­vate party.

Endangered Privilege: Does the Federal Therapist-Patient Testimonial Privilege Contain a “Dangerous Patient” Exception?

by Miri­am Bial*

In Jaf­fee v. Red­mond, the Supreme Court inter­pret­ed Rule 501 of the Fed­er­al Rules of Evi­dence to con­struct a fed­er­al ther­a­pist-patient tes­ti­mo­ni­al priv­i­lege but declined to delin­eate the full con­tours of the priv­i­lege. In this con­tri­bu­tion, Miri­am Bial (’22) argues that the fed­er­al ther­a­pist-patient tes­ti­mo­ni­al priv­i­lege does not con­tain a “dan­ger­ous patient” excep­tion as such a carve out would under­mine Jaffee’s under­ly­ing ratio­nale. The Court rec­og­nized the fed­er­al ther­a­pist-patient tes­ti­mo­ni­al priv­i­lege ground­ed in the pub­lic health ben­e­fits of encour­ag­ing can­did ther­a­py seek­ers as well as respect for state pol­i­cy­mak­ing. Rec­og­niz­ing a “dan­ger­ous patient” excep­tion con­flicts with these goals with­out pro­vid­ing dis­cern­able evi­den­tiary ben­e­fits. Though sup­port­ers of the excep­tion have invoked a foot­note with­in Jaf­fee along­side notions of breach of con­fi­den­tial­i­ty and waiv­er, those inter­pre­ta­tions clash with the holding’s plain lan­guage and intent.

Does the Supreme Court’s Decision in Carpenter v. United States Implicate the Government’s Use of Pole Cameras?

by Jack Derewicz*

Does the Supreme Court’s deci­sion in Car­pen­ter v. Unit­ed States con­strain the government’s war­rant­less use of pole cam­eras to sur­veil peo­ple it sus­pects are engag­ing in crim­i­nal activ­i­ty? In this con­tri­bu­tion, Jack Derewicz (’21) argues that the Car­pen­ter opin­ion does not impli­cate this par­tic­u­lar inves­ti­ga­to­ry tech­nique because pole cam­eras do not retroac­tive­ly col­lect the type of infor­ma­tion that, when aggre­gat­ed, present the gov­ern­ment with infor­ma­tion it could not have oth­er­wise obtained.

Seizures Conducted Absent Physical Force: Momentary Compliance Versus Submission

by Dean S. Ache­son*

This Con­tri­bu­tion exam­ines whether police have effec­tu­at­ed a Fourth Amend­ment seizure by show of author­i­ty when an indi­vid­ual flees from a momen­tary encounter. Dean S. Ache­son (’21) argues that, under Fourth Amend­ment prece­dent, pre-flight com­pli­ance does not con­sti­tute sub­mis­sion to a show of author­i­ty in a police inter­ac­tion that con­sists of answer­ing brief ques­tions and engag­ing in eva­sive behavior.

Language Conduit Theory After Crawford

By Caleb Younger*

Must inter­preters be avail­able for cross exam­i­na­tion under the Con­fronta­tion Clause? In this Con­tri­bu­tion, Caleb Younger (’19) dis­cuss­es the con­duit the­o­ry in light of the Supreme Court’s deci­sion in Craw­ford v. Wash­ing­ton and sub­se­quent low­er court find­ings. Ulti­mate­ly, this Con­tri­bu­tion argues that the Craw­ford Court prop­er­ly inter­pret­ed the Sixth Amend­ment and that the lan­guage con­duit the­o­ry fails under both Supreme Court jurispru­dence and the Con­sti­tu­tion­al text.

Don’t Depart From Deterrence: The Exclusionary Rule And Warrants Based On Tainted Evidence

by Savan­nah Ash­by*

Should the Fourth Amend­ment exclu­sion­ary rule apply when an offi­cer acts in good faith in the exe­cu­tion of a war­rant based on taint­ed evi­dence? In this Con­tri­bu­tion, Savan­nah Ash­by (’18) dis­cuss­es the dif­fer­ing ways in which Courts of Appeals have applied the good faith excep­tion to the exclu­sion­ary rule in sit­u­a­tions where the war­rant is based on taint­ed evi­dence. Ulti­mate­ly, this Con­tri­bu­tion argues that the good faith excep­tion to the exclu­sion­ary rule should not apply to evi­dence obtained in exe­cu­tion of a war­rant based on taint­ed evi­dence as it more con­sis­tent with the goal of the exclu­sion­ary rule: deter­ring offi­cers from com­mit­ting Fourth Amend­ment violations.

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