Thursday, September 6, 2012

US v. Abel case brief

  1. US v. Abel (US 1984)
    1. Abel is on trial for robbery. Ehle will testify for the government that Abel did it. Abel will call Mills, who will testify that Ehle told Mills he would falsely implicate Abel to get a deal with the government. This indicates bias. On cross-examination, the government will ask Mills whether he, Ehle and Abel are part of a prison gang called the Aryan Brotherhood whose tenets are to lie, steal, and kill to protect each other. If Mills denies that, the Government wants to call Ehle back to testify that they are members of such a gang, and those are its tenets.
      1. question: can the govt impeach Mills, first by cross-examining him, and if he denies it, by calling Ehle to establish the existence of this group?
    2. extrinsic evidence – when we decide that Δ can pursue Ehle’s bias by calling Mills, we are saying that extrinsic evidence will be allowed on this question of bias.
      1. “extrinsic” = outside the examination of witness whose credibility we are challenging
      2. w/r/t this method of impeachment, proof of bias is never collateral – to prove bias, you’re entitled to introduce extrinsic evidence.
      3. note: you don’t have absolute right – judge still has 403 gatekeeping function
    3. note: foreclosure of extrinsic evidence under FRE 608 (character for truth/veracity) doesn’t preclude admission under another rule.
      1. that is – even if witness could be impeached under 608, which doesn’t allow extrinsic evidence, that doesn’t mean that extrinsic evidence is precluded if impeachment can also be pursued via bias.

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