Articles Tagged with Innocence

R.C.M. 701(b)(2) sets out the requirement for defense disclosure if there will be an innocent ingestion defense.

Assuming the accused is the only witness who may testify to an innocent ingestion, must the defense disclose that under the rule.  My answer is no.  To force a disclosure prior to testimony violates the accused’s right to silence at trial and under Article 31, UCMJ.  The President has addressed this issue in R.C.M. 701(g)(3)(D), and IMHO C.A.A.F. has also put the question to rest.

Appellant argues before this Court that the military judge improperly restricted his right to present his defense at this court-martial. This improper restriction, he asserts, stems from the trial judge’s misreading of RCM 701 and his resulting rejections of appellant’s profferred defense of "innocent ingestion." He contends that the trial judge erroneously prevented him from testifying to his belief that his drink was spiked, and to the circumstances supporting that belief, unless he had corroborating witnesses who actually tampered with his drink or saw someone else do it. We hold that the trial judge’s reading of RCM 701 was incorrect.

Eyewitness Identifications and State Courts as Guardians Against Wrongful Conviction

Sandra Guerra Thompson
University of Houston Law Center
Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, Forthcoming
University of Houston Law Center No. 2010-A-1

Despite a growing awareness that mistaken eyewitness identifications contribute significantly to wrongful convictions, most courts continue to apply federal due process criteria for admissibility of eyewitness identification that has proved useless in protect against the use of highly unreliable evidence. In response, this Article reviews the path-breaking decisions of several State Supreme Courts that have blazed their own trail. It explores the issues that courts have addressed, the rules they have devised, and the legal grounds for their decisions, and from this, concludes that State Supreme Courts can implement appropriate criteria that would in fact promote accuracy and fairness in the use of eyewitness identification.
Part I briefly outlines and critiques the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence on eyewitness identifications and due process. It treads on ground well-worn by scholars who have for decades decried the Court’s failure to provide a due process test that would protect against the use of unreliable identification evidence. Part II explores the role that State appellate courts can play in developing a jurisprudence of eyewitness identification evidence that meaningfully incorporates social science research and carefully balances the interests of law enforcement and the accused.
Finally, because of the superior role that judges have in protecting both constitutional and civil rights as well as the integrity of the administration of criminal justice, the article concludes that it is incumbent on State Supreme Courts to show leadership in developing solutions to the problems that plague this area . Accordingly, Part III argues that State Supreme Courts are well-suited to take an active part in the “laboratory” model of criminal justice that characterizes our federalist system.

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