Wednesday, December 4, 2013

United States v. Brewer case brief

United States v. Brewer case brief summary
451 F. Supp. 50 (E.D. Tenn. 1978)

Defendant was charged with one count of kidnapping, under 18 U.S.C.S. § 1201, and one count of transporting a stolen motor vehicle. Defendant filed a motion in Federal district court (Tennessee) to suppress the Government's proposed introduction of certain past convictions as impeachment evidence if defendant takes the stand.

The four convictions the Government wanted to introduce to impeach defendant's testimony, should he take the stand, were punishable by death or imprisonment in excess of one year. Defendant was sentenced on the three State convictions less than 10 years prior to the current case. As to the federal kidnapping charge, although the conviction occurred over 17 years ago, the release date was within 10 years.


  • The court granted the motion as to the one federal conviction. 
  • The court found that the probative value of the prior kidnapping conviction on the issue of defendant's truthfulness, should he take the stand, did not outweigh the prejudicial effect knowledge of such conviction could have on the jury. 
  • Admission of the other three convictions, all involving serious crimes, sufficiently served the purpose of impeaching defendant's credibility. 
  • The kidnapping conviction was for the same crime as one of those for which defendant was presently charged. 
  • It substantially increased the possible prejudicial effect such testimony might have on the jury, in spite of any limiting instruction the court would give contemporaneously with the admission.

The court held that the prior kidnapping conviction was inadmissible, but the remaining State convictions were admissible as impeachment evidence.

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