United States Supreme Court
474 U.S. 15 (1985)
Fensterer (defendant) was convicted of murder in the courts of the state of Delaware (plaintiff). At trial, the prosecution presented the expert testimony of an FBI agent who testified that a hair from the victim found at the scene had been forcibly removed. The FBI agent explained that he considered three different characteristics of a hair follicle to be evidence of forcible removal. The FBI agent did not make a written record of which characteristic he relied upon to conclude that the victim’s hair had been forcibly removed. The agent could not remember which characteristic he had relied upon. Fensterer objected to the admission of the agent’s testimony on grounds that he was deprived of the opportunity for effective cross-examination by the agent’s inability to remember which characteristic he had relied upon. The trial court overruled Fensterer’s objection. Fensterer presented an expert witness who testified that he had spoken with the FBI agent and had been told by the agent that he had concluded that the hair had been forcibly removed because a follicular tag was present on the hair. Fensterer’s expert testified that the follicular tag characteristic had been discredited as reliable evidence of forcible removal. Fensterer was convicted and appealed through the state courts. The state supreme court concluded that by presenting a witness with advance knowledge that the witness could not remember the basis for his opinion, the prosecution had obstructed Fensterer’s ability to effectively cross-examine the adverse witness. The state supreme court reversed Fensterer’s conviction. The state of Delaware petitioned the United States Supreme Court for review.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Per Curiam)
Dissent (Marshall, J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.
Here's why 201,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 14,000 briefs, keyed to 188 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.