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Evidence

Exam 7
30 minutes

Fact Pattern

A woman is on trial for the attempted murder of a man whom she shot with a handgun on March 1. According to a State A police report:

The woman started dating the man in August. A few months later, after the woman broke up with him, the man began calling the woman’s cell phone and hanging up without saying anything. In February, the man called and said, “I promise you’ll be happy if you take me back, but very unhappy if you do not.” The following week, to protect herself against the man, the woman lawfully bought a handgun.

On March 1, the woman was working late in her office. At 10:00 p.m., the man entered the woman’s office without knocking. The woman immediately grabbed the gun and shot the man once, hitting him in the shoulder.

The police arrived at the scene at 10:10 p.m. By this time, a number of people had gathered outside the doorway of the woman’s office. A police officer entered the office, and his partner blocked the doorway so that the woman could not leave and no one could enter. The officer immediately seized the gun from the woman and asked her, without providing Miranda warnings, “Do you have any other weapons?” She responded, “I have a can of pepper spray in my purse. Is that a weapon?”

At 10:20 p.m., after the woman had been arrested and the man taken to the hospital, a custodian told the police officer, “I didn’t see the shooting, but I heard some noises in the hall around 10 and then a loud bang and screaming.”

A few hours later, at the hospital, the man told the police officer that he had entered the woman’s office just to speak with her and that the woman had shot him without provocation.

The woman will defend against the attempted murder charge on the ground that she acted in self- defense. In State A, self-defense is defined as “the use of force upon or toward another person when the defendant reasonably believes that such force is immediately necessary for the purpose of protecting himself against the use of unlawful force by such other person on the present occasion.”

State A has adopted evidence rules identical to the Federal Rules of Evidence. State A follows the doctrine of the Supreme Court of the United States when interpreting protections provided to criminal defendants under the U.S. Constitution.

The prosecution and the defense have fully complied with all pretrial notice requirements, the authenticity of all the evidence has been established, and the court has rejected defense objections based on the Confrontation Clause.

The woman, the man, and the police officer will testify at trial. The custodian is unavailable to testify at trial.


Questions

  1. Under the Miranda doctrine and the rules of evidence, explain how the court should rule on the admissibility of the following evidence: 

    1. Testimony from the woman, offered by the defense, repeating the man’s statement, “I promise you’ll be happy if you take me back, but very unhappy if you do not.” 

    2. Testimony from the police officer, offered by the prosecution, repeating the woman’s statement, “I have a can of pepper spray in my purse. Is that a weapon?” 

    3. Testimony from the police officer, offered by the prosecution, repeating the custodian’s statement, “I didn’t see the shooting, but I heard some noises in the hall around 10 and then a loud bang and screaming.”

Question 1

Under the Miranda doctrine and the rules of evidence, explain how the court should rule on the admissibility of the following evidence: 

1. Testimony from the woman, offered by the defense, repeating the man’s statement, “I promise you’ll be happy if you take me back, but very unhappy if you do not.” 

2. Testimony from the police officer, offered by the prosecution, repeating the woman’s statement, “I have a can of pepper spray in my purse. Is that a weapon?” 

3. Testimony from the police officer, offered by the prosecution, repeating the custodian’s statement, “I didn’t see the shooting, but I heard some noises in the hall around 10 and then a loud bang and screaming.”

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