Saturday, March 12, 2005


Evidence 101

One of the subjects I teach is Evidence, so I though I would use my expertise to shed some light on the recent development in the Michael Jackson trial. Apparently, I should revise my course curriculum to include this principle: none of the other rules of Evidence will matter in your case if you client shows up for his trial wearing pajamas.

Nate at Tornado Watch wittily evokes the O.J. Simpson case with this comment on Jackson's:
This trial is ridiculous. All that is missing at this point is for Michael's entourage to go cruising slowly down the 403 [sic] with a squadron of police cars in pursuit, while on-lookers flock the side of the highway to hold up signs with witty catch phrases[.]
As an Evidence professor, I have to point out that the infamous "low speed chase" resulting in O.J. Simpson's arrest occurred "the 405" (Interstate 405). Is Nate making a clever evidence pun here, a reference to Federal Rule of Evidence 403, which allows exclusion of evidence whose probative value is substantially outweighed by a high risk of unfair prejudice? I.e., the Jackson defense team is "cruising" for unfair prejudice -- in hope of a mistrial? Such a strategy could well to put Jackson on highway 101 straight up to San Quentin State Penitentiary.


Although I've yet to have a client show up at trial in jammies, I did get quite a surprise years ago when I attended a client's defense medical examination. My client was a dentist who had been rear-ended at high speeds. Upper cervical problems are not good for someone who spends all day leaning over into people's mouths and has ready access to many sharp instruments.

The examining physician want to observe how my client walked and had him remove his shoes to take a few steps in the hallway. That was when I discovered that my oh-so successful dentist wore toe rings. Eight of them.
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