Evidence Assignments & Notes

LAW 6330 (4 credits)
Professor Pedro A. Malavet

Fall 2015: Section 02BB
Mondays and Wednesdays 3:00-4:50 p.m.
Room 355B

This page displays your weekly assignment sheets and provides links to the detailed notes for each class session and topic.

Our two-hour sessions will be split into one-hour segments designated "A," for the first hour and "B," for the second.

Quicklinks by Week

General Comments

Fall 2015. The calendar and lesson plans for the semester will be posted and updated regularly on this page. Only assignments with dates between August and December of 2015 are updated.

Printing. Use the "print preview" command to view the precise pages that you wish to print out to refer to the latest reading assignments.

Assignment Sheets.
I will issue weekly assignment sheets with specific assignments, by posting them in the website. I will attempt to structure assignments by class session. Students, especially those who sign-up for a particular class, should check with me to make sure what material will be covered. Students must read the assigned pages in the text as well as the pertinent Federal Rules of Evidence in your Supplement. The Notes and Comments in the Rules are extremely helpful and should likewise be included in your reading.

Week One: August 17-19, 2015

Videos on US Courts and Trials

These are from the MOOC The Global Student's Introduction to the Law of the United States that a team of professors at the Levin College of Law published last year. They may help you to see the context of the material that we are covering in very simple terms.

Judges and their Courts in the United States

(Click on the image to launch the video in a new window)

The American Oral Jury Trial and the Rules of Evidence

(Click on the image to launch the video in a new window)

Week Two: August 24-26, 2015

Week Three: August 31-September 2, 2015

Week Four: September 9, 2015

Please note that Monday, September 7, 2015, is the Labor Day Holiday and all classes are canceled.

Week Five: September 14-16, 2015

Week Six: September 21-23, 2015

Week Seven: September 28-30, 2015

Week Eight: October 5-7, 2015

Week Nine: October 12-14, 2015

Week Ten: October 19-21, 2015

Week Eleven: October 26-28, 2015

I can think of no better illustration of the seriousness of the effect of the Sixth Amendment Confrontation Clause than Giles v. California and its application of the constitutional forfeiture doctrine.

I must confess that our discussion of Giles yesterday did NOT go AT ALL how I expected. Very interesting.

Week 12: November 2-4, 2015

Melendez, Bullcoming and Williams

Melendez involved chemical analysis of drugs.

Bullcoming involved blood-alcohol lab reports in a drunk driving prosecution. The majority, 5-4, applied Crawford to label them "testimonial" and thus to require a result similar to Melendez-Diaz.

Williams involved the use of forensic reports of DNA analysis prepared at an outside laboratory (independent relative to law-enforcement) by a state technician who testified at trial and conducted separate testing of her own. This was a bench trial, and the court emphasized that the judge, unlike a jury, would not be confused about the proper use of the evidence. The plurality opinion by Justice Alito announced the result, but only garnered four full votes (his own and that of Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Kennedy and Breyer), Justice Breyer issued a separate opinion concurring in the ruling (but indicating he would have wanted additional briefing and reargument during the next term); Justice Thomas issued a separate opinion concurring in the judgment but concluding that the private laboratory report was too "informal" to be considered "testimonial"; Justice Kagan issued a lengthy dissent joined by Justices Scalia, Ginsburg and Sotomayor.

Although the passage of time and the use of the cases by the lower courts has given us some clarity, the court has made a bit of a mess of the area of laboratory reports with Williams. But the concerns are matters of trial tactics and the use of government expert witnesses in criminal trials.

However, as I noted above, Michigan v. Bryant shows you the primary effect and current status of the Crawford doctrine: All justices in the current court agree with the new interpretation the Sixth Amendment to bar the use of “Testimonial” hearsay absent a showing of unavailability and a prior opportunity to cross-examine, and they all buy into the Emergency Doctrine. They disagree on what CLASSIFIES as “Testimonial” or as an “Ongoing Emergency”. Normal judicial discretion differences. But they agree on the categories that represent a total abandonment of Ohio v. Roberts as a constitutional standard for applying the Confrontation Clause. Quite remarkable.

Week 13: November 9-11, 2015

WEDNESDAY November 11, 2015 is the Veterans Day Holiday.

Week 14: November 16-18, 2015

Week 15: November 23-24, 2015

The usual four hours of class over two days this week, except that Tuesday is a legislative Wednesday. No classes are scheduled for Wednesday, November 26, 2015, to allow for Thanksgiving travel.

Review Session

  • Review Session:
    • Date: Monday, November 30, 2015
    • Time: 1:00-3:00 p.m.
    • Room: Holland Room 350
  • Review Session and More Exam Discussion
  • (Note that I will NOT answer substantive questions after the review session).
    • I will take the first half hour to one hour to go over basic exam instructions and my general exam expectations;
    • I will also take this time to describe how you could have constructed a good exam answer using the facts of the Practical Project.
    • Then, I will take specific questions. Please be prepared to reference a Rule of Evidence, a common law doctrine, a case or a casebook page number. I will only address matters that I covered in class.
    • I will stay as long as students have questions, but students may leave any time they wish.
    • Examsoft use will be permitted‚ and is indeed highly encouraged‚ to answer the essay question. Each student will be responsible for keeping track of their answer's length and shall be required to log into the examsoft template at the start of the examination. The template should be available for download a few days before the exam.
  • How to Take An Exam From Me
  • Exam Date and Time:
    • Friday, December 4, 2015 starting at 1:00 p.m.
    • Please arrive by 12:30 in order to get your exam and the instructions and be started on time at 1:00.