Monday, December 23, 2002

Interregnum for an Evidence Examination -- Do You Want to Try Your Hand at an Answer?

Just a few weeks ago this blogger began a daring(!?) experiment: he began soliciting opinions from blog-folk about his projected book on general principles of evidence and proof. For the next several weeks, however, this blogspace will be bereft of new blogs about this book-writing project. This blogger -- this treatise writer! -- must grade examination answers instead. But grading exam answers is generally an extraordinarily stultifying activity. It occurred to this temporarily-stultified exam-grading blogger that some spice might be added to his life if some folks in blogland could be persuaded to submit some of their thoughts -- and possibly even some of their research -- about a question that the aforesaid blogger put to his students in an open-book take-home examination in the law of evidence:


The State of Blackacre indicts Albert for murder. The indictment charges that Albert deliberately killed Vila, his one-year old daughter, on January 5, 2002.

Albert pleads not guilty.

In her opening statement the prosecutor states that the evidence will show that Albert strangled or suffocated Vila.

In his opening statement, Albert’s counsel states that the evidence will show that Vila died of sudden infant death syndrome, a largely-unexplained tendency of infants to die spontaneously of asphyxiation.

The prosecution opens its case-in-chief by submitting evidence that establishes that (i) Vila died of asphyxiation; (ii) Vila died at home at approximately 2:00 a.m. on January 5, 2002; (iii) Albert was in the home at the time of Vila’s death and for at least several hours before and thereafter; and (iv) Vila’s dead body was discovered by Albert’s spouse Fidelia at 8:15 a.m. on January 5, 2002, upon Fidelia’s return home from a business trip.

The prosecution then – during its case-in-chief – offers to show that on three separate occasions prior to January 5, 2002, Vila, while in the sole care and custody of Albert, was rushed to the hospital, showed signs of asphyxiation, but, in each instance, was revived before any permanent harm was done. The prosecution also offers to show that on April 3, 1997, Cuddly, who was Albert’s eight-month old son, died of unexplained asphyxiation in his crib at home. Albert was home at the time. Fidelia was on a business trip away from home.

Albert’s counsel objects to these offers of evidence.

Please evaluate the prosecution’s offers of evidence.


That's the question. I freely, absolutely, utterly, and irrevocably promise not to grade your thoughts, analyses, and answers. I have enough such work on my plate already! Nonetheless, I really would like to hear your thoughts. Are there any takers?