General Criminal Case Question...

This is a discussion on General Criminal Case Question... within the Criminal Law & Criminal Procedure forums, part of the Legal Questions & Answers Forum category; My teacher assigned us a court case to do and I have a few questions about the general proceedings of a court case when it is a criminal case. If ...

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  1. #1
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    Post General Criminal Case Question...

    My teacher assigned us a court case to do and I have a few questions about the general proceedings of a court case when it is a criminal case. If this helps, I'm supposed to plead the innocence of Iago (from Shakespeare's Othello) to the court that had never read the book. My case is to impeach Roderigo, Othello, Cassio and if possible Desdemona and Emilia. (If you can help me with the Desdemona and Emilia part, I'd love it because I can't think of anything for Emilia). This will get a good junk of the play stricken out because many of the revealing conversations are between only two character - Iago and one of them - and if the aforementioned characters are impeached, they can't testify that the said conversion ever took place and Iago will plead the fifth as to not incriminate himself. Additionally, I'm going to argue that Iago was just speaking his mind about Desdemona's unfaithfulness (should it come to that) and that he was never actually going to kill Cassio, like he promises in the play to Othello. As for the killing Emilia, I'm going to argue that women were property in the early 17th century and that today, killing a woman back then was like killing a dog now. So he should be able to make it off with at most 7 years (if the women were property back then argument doesn't work) and if it does work, then about 2 years parole or so. Here are my question that I mentioned at the very beginning of this well organized and lengthy Paraguay:

    1) When do you impeach a witness and exactly, how is a witness impeached (I know the inconsistencies and all that stuff but I mean do you do it in front of a judge or the jury, etc)?
    2) How do you proceed if you want to question a witness on more than one subject? Do you stop and wait for a while or do you just make it clear to the jury that you're talking about a whole new subject?
    3) Can a witness refuse to answer a question or plead the fifth while they are being cross-examined?
    4) When can I submit a motion in limine to the court and how exactly does that work (I've found some information on it but it's not very clear. It would be swell if you guys could clarify it for me, even just a bit)?

    ***I'm pretty sure that I know the answer to this but I'm not sure: The client (defendant) cannot be cross-examined by the opposing counsel, right?

    Last edited by Amer Kurt; 10-14-2011 at 11:52 PM.

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    Although I don't normally help people with homework on this forum, here it goes:


    1. It depends on the trial. If it is a bench trial, you impeach the witness in front of the judge. If it is a jury trial, you impeach the witness in front of the jury and the judge (who is presiding over the case). You impeach a witness by asking them various questions, either about their character, memory, etc... By doing this, you can show bias, motive, and so on.


    2. If you are cross examining a witness, you can only talk about the questions the witness was asked on direct examination. If you call this witness up, then you can ask about anything you like so long as it is relevant to the case. You can switch subjects but make sure it is clear that the jury is following your line of questioning.


    3. Yes but then it is possible the witnesses questions during direct would be stricken from the record.

    Also I don't see why you say that the client cannot be cross examined. If the client chooses to testify, then she can be cross examined.
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    It's not homework, per se. It's more of a project. :P But thanks.

    Can the prosecution and the defense call up the same witness?

    Someone told me a while ago that the client cannot be cross examined. I also found it here: http://www.law.indiana.edu/instructi...ictactics.html. Then, can the prosecution call my client to testify? I know that they cannot if they know that he will just plead the fifth but I don't know how to make sure that the prosecution knows that he won't talk. Care to weigh in?

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    Where in that link did you see that the client cannot be cross examined so I don't have to search for the whole document.

    Yes, the prosecution and the defense can call the same witness. The prosecution can also call your witness even if they know the witness will just plead the fifth. The only time your witness cannot be called on cross-examination is if you don't call the witness for direct examination.
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    I just looked through it and I cannot see it. Maybe I was mistaken ab out that certain link. I'll look into it later and if I find something, I'll be sure to let you know.

    All right, but can my client just plead the fifth on everything that the prosecution asks him?

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    Yes but keep in mind if he does that, his direct examination testimony might and likely will be thrown out by the judge.
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    That's fine because I don't plan on having him say much but how can I avoid having my client say more than he is absolutely required to but have the direct examination still be intact after the cross examination? Or would it really matter if the direct examination was thrown out if the jury heard it? I only ask that question because the jury will be made up of 15 year old's and God knows that they aren't the sharpest tools in the box and probably won't throw out that piece of the case even if they're instructed to do so? Thoughts?

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    You can make certain objects when he is being cross examined to prevent out of scope testimony. Or you can keep him off the stand altogether by not calling him as a witness. This way he won't testify on direct for you, and he can plead the 5th on direct for opposing counsel.
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    The not testifying is good because he can be replaced with other witnesses. Thanks for all your help.

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    I was just looking through my notes and I found the rule that states that the defendant cannot be cross-examined: Rule 104(c), Federal Rules of Evidence and a precedent: Commonwealth v. Judge.

    My other comment is: is it legal for someone to take someone's letter that wasn't mailed and read it and use it in a case or would that be inadmissible evidence?

    And is there any sort of precedent that if someone forces you to commit murder, you are still responsible for that murder in the eyes of the law?
    Last edited by Amer Kurt; 10-21-2011 at 01:03 AM.


 
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