Thursday, September 6, 2012

Old Chief v. US case brief

Old Chief v. US (1997)

OC charged with many crimes, one of which was possession of firearm while a convicted felon
prior conviction is an element to the charge – prosecutor has to prove that OC was convicted for assault causing serious injury.

defense atty offered to stipulate to the prior conviction; prosecutor rejected offer (wanted jury to hear about prior crime, greater chance of conviction)
defense arg: type of felony is irrelevant to case at hand, so shouldn’t be admissible (willing to stipulate to prior conviction that falls under type in firearms statute)
unanimously rejected OC’s arg

-A trial is not a series of stipulations – jury expects to have some meat.
party autonomy – parties shouldn’t be denied their chosen method of proving their case just b/c other side will stipulate to things they can’t avoid; autonomy concern involved in having an adversarial system in first place.
-Need for narrative richness – party not confined to proving their case only in a logical way, but also an emotional way.
-If you force a litigant to accept a stipulation in lieu of what jury expects from evidence, jury may wonder what’s being held back.

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