Thursday, September 6, 2012

Old Chief v. US case brief

Old Chief v. US (1997)

FACTS
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)
HOLDING
unanimously rejected OC’s arg

ANALYSIS
-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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