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United States v. Odom

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
736 F.2d 104 (4th Cir. 1984)


Facts

Odom, et al. (defendants) were charged with voter fraud by casting absentee ballots in the names of residents of a retirement home. At trial, the prosecution sought to introduce the testimony of approximately 30 residents of the retirement home. The defendants filed a motion to have the competency of each of the witnesses determined by the judge in camera. The trial court denied this motion. The trial court did not swear in nine of the witnesses because it was determined that they could not understand the questions being asked. The defendants did not object to the taking of non-sworn testimony until the following day when they filed and then withdrew a motion to strike. The trial court convicted the defendants. The defendants appealed, arguing that the court should not have taken unsworn testimony and that the mental condition of the residents created in the minds of the jury an implication that “the [defendants] must have been guilty of vote fraud because the patients were incapable of formulating a voluntary or informed choice.”

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Russell, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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