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James v. Kentucky

466 U.S. 341 (1984)

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James v. Kentucky

United States Supreme Court

466 U.S. 341 (1984)

Facts

Michael James (defendant) was arrested and charged with multiple crimes including rape. James had a previous conviction for forgery. Because of this, the prosecutor (plaintiff) warned James’s attorney that the forgery conviction would be used to impeach him if he testified on his own behalf at trial. For this reason, James exercised his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. James’s attorney requested that the judge admonish the jury not to draw an adverse inference from the fact that James would not testify on his own behalf. The trial court did not give a jury instruction about making such an inference. James appealed, claiming that the jury was not properly instructed. The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that James’s rights had not been violated, because his attorney had not asked for an “instruction,” which the court would have been required to honor, but rather an “admonishment.” James appealed to the United States Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (White, J.)

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