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Taylor v. Illinois

United States Supreme Court
484 U.S. 400 (1988)


Facts

Taylor (defendant) was convicted by a jury of murdering a man during a street fight. In response to the prosecution’s discovery motion requesting a list of Taylor’s witnesses, the defense identified two sisters, who testified on Taylor’s behalf, and two men, who did not end up testifying at trial. On the second day of trial, defense counsel made an oral motion to amend his answer to discovery to include two more witnesses. He explained that he had just learned about the two additional witnesses and that they had seen the entire incident. After being questioned by the police however, defense counsel conceded that Taylor had told him about the two additional witnesses but he had been unable to locate them. Concerned that the witnesses had not really observed the incident, the judge heard the testimony of one of the witnesses outside the presence of the jury. The testimony was not at all consistent with defense counsel’s representation and he had not witnessed the incident firsthand. The judge suspected that defense counsel deliberately violated the rules, based on similar tactics in prior cases, and that the witnesses had not been truthful. Therefore, the trial judge decided that the seriousness of the discovery violation warranted the exclusion of the testimony. The court of appeals affirmed Taylor’s conviction.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Stevens, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
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  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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Dissent (Brennan, J.)

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