Improperly Admitted Evidence

A one-time Houston law enforcement officer is currently on death row for allegations that he hired a hitman to kill his estranged wife. Most recently, the man lost a federal appeal to overturn his conviction. The case before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals was based on the defendant’s evidence about ballistics tests on a gun that was purchased excluded the instrument from being the murder weapon. While the evidence had been known by the defendant prior to the second trial, it was ruled inadmissible. In its decision regarding the ballistics report, the Fifth Circuit noted that evidence is not strong enough to undermine its confidence in the jury’s verdict. The court even noted that the defendant’s arguments were a convoluted theory that suggested he was unhappy with his current legal representation. This challenge was just one of five that the defendant has filed in the case. While the court also issued an opinion on the defendant’s argument that he should be allowed to file his own, the court declined to rule on the other two issues.

This case addresses just one of the important ways in which evidence can be mishandled during a trial. As a result, this article will discuss some of the most important section the Federal Rules of Evidence, which were designed to make federal trials proceed more fairly but have created some unintended consequences. The goal of all evidence should be to help the jury function in the role of triers of fact, but all too often courts improperly handle or admit the evidence, which creates a strong basis for an appeal. To make sure that evidence is properly handled during a federal appeal, many people find it essential to obtain the assistance of a highly skilled criminal defense attorney.

Appeals Based on Rule 403

Rule 403 of the Federal Rules of Evidence allows trial judges to exclude relevant evidence if its probative values are outweighed by the risk of unfair prejudice. Some of the reasons why a court might exclude evidence include if it causes undue delay, confuses the issues, misleads the jury, needlessly presents cumulative evidence or wastes time. Rule 403 can come into play during murder cases when the prosecution tries to have too many photographs of a crime admitted as evidence that does not enhance the jury’s understanding of any aspect of the case.  

Appeals Based on Rule 404

Many appeals are also based on improper application of Rule 404, which states that evidence of a crime or any act of wrongdoing can be permitted to a jury after the judge provides the instruction this evidence is not admissible to establish a defendant’s character but only to show that in the particular situation the defendant acted in a certain manner. Evidence of this nature is also admissible to absence of mistake, lack of accident, prove intent, knowledge,  motive, opportunity, or preparation.

Obtain the Assistance of a Seasoned Criminal Appeal Attorney

If you need the assistance of strong legal representation who can help navigate the numerous obstacles that arise in an appeal, do not hesitate to contact the legal team at the Federal Criminal Defense Center today.