FORENSIC EVIDENCE SYLLABUS

Spring 2010

Not official until the first day of class! Work in progress!!

Dr. Tod W. Burke

CRJU 481-01   Index # 20900

Wednesday 5:00-8:00 PM    Location: Cook Hall Room 129

Office Hours: Tue/Thru 3:30-4:30 & Wed. 2:30-4:30 (subject to change) * appointments available
Office: 307 Adams St. 6B - Criminal Justice Building (upstairs office)

Office number: 831-6657
e-mail: tburke@radford.edu
homepage: www.radford.edu/~tburke

 
Introduction:

This course is designed to introduce the student to the major concepts of forensic evidence. Topics for discussion will include, but are not limited to: Kinds of evidence, Burden of proof, Admission and exclusion of evidence, Judicial notice, Presumptions, inferences and stipulations, Relevancy and materiality, Competency, Examination of witnesses, Privileges, Lay and expert testimony, Hearsay rule and exceptions, Documentary evidence, Best evidence rule, Real evidence, and Forensic evidence in the courtroom.

The basic format of the course will be discussion and lecture. Classroom participation plays a vital role in the success of this course!  Each student will be assigned to a mock trial project. While the mock trial will take place at the end of the semester (see date below) before a "real" judge and courtroom setting, students are expected to conduct research the entire semester in preparation for the project. The mock trial is designed to allow students to apply their knowledge gained in Forensic Evidence, as well as other courses (i.e. Introduction to Forensic Science, Criminal Investigative Theory, Criminal Law and Evidence, Introduction to Biology, etc.).

Grading:

The student will be graded based upon the following criteria:

Quizzes  [Each quiz is valued up to 10 points]
Case Briefs [Each collected case brief is valued up to 10 points]
Written assignment based on book reading [valued up to 105 points]
Mock Trial (100 points possible)


All quizzes will be hypothetical situations/short answers. Material for the quizzes may come from a variety of sources including (but not limited to): lecture, court cases, handouts, movies/videos, guest speakers, etc. Quizzes will take place at the beginning of class and will take approximately 10-15 minutes to complete.  Therefore, it is imperative that you are not late to class or you may not likely complete the quiz within the provided time period (see attendance policy). 

**It is estimated that the student will spend approximately 2 hours daily preparing for class. Do not procrastinate!
 
Students are expected to prepare and discuss case briefs from assigned readings. http://www.radford.edu/~tburke/legalbrief.html

The briefs must be typed in proper format (including grammar/spelling). The briefs will be graded on a 0-10 scale (Any student who is ill-prepared for discussion or does not follow the brief format requirements will receive a "0" for each brief missed). If, for some reason, the brief is longer than one page, please staple (do not use paper clips or other means of securing the document).  Under no circumstances will students be allowed to share or copy the legal brief of others.  The purpose of these assignments is to encourage individual thought – this is NOT a group project!  For the purpose of this class, any shared or copied information on a case brief will be treated as plagiarism and the consequences will be consistent with University policy. Case briefs are due on the date requested.  Late case briefs will not be accepted, so please do not bother to ask - no excuses!

Group Contract:

You will be assigned (via a grab bag the class following schedule adjustment) to a group representing the prosecution or defense.  This will be the same group for your book readings and written assignments (see below). This will be semester-long assignments.  As a result, you will be spending a great deal of time working inside and outside of class with your group members.

No later than  Wednesday, February 3, you should submit a group contract.  Take this very seriously, as it should lay out the expectations against which you will evaluate yourself and your fellow group members at the end of the semester (described later in this document).  At a minimum, the group contract should include the following elements (all typed and double-spaced):

            a.       Group Members and Contact Information

      List all members of your group, including first and last names, and provide contact information (phone, e-mail, IM, etc.) for each individual.  You may also want to note the “best” ways/times to contact each group member. During your initial meeting, you should select the lead prosecutor/defense counsel. You should include in the contract the duties and responsibilities of those positions. The lead prosecutor/defense counsel must be available to meet with me weekly during my scheduled office hours  to provide a brief update.  However, I will not interfere with the group process, provide biased assistance, nor will I get involved in "group drama."

b.      Dedicated Meeting Times

I would like for you to schedule your group meeting times now (a minimum of 8 meetings).   This will allow you all to enter the dates and times to your schedule now, so you can plan accordingly. You might also wish to stipulate any due dates for assignments. I can assure you that the closer your get to the trial date (tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, April 21 during the class period at the Radford City Courthouse), the more meetings and rehearsals you will desire!  

c.       Rights and Responsibilities

      Think carefully about what you believe each group member’s rights and responsibilities should be (do this after you have reviewed the specific requirements for this assignment).  You might want to think about group operations (how decisions will be made, how conflicts will be managed, etc.).  You should note what you expect of one another, as fellow group members.  What rights and responsibilities should group members expect?  Also, you should specify what constitutes “excused” and “unexcused” absences from group meetings or failures to complete required assignments.  This section is the heart of your contract, in that it outlines your expectations of one another.  You are not limited to the above items; give this some serious thought, considering what you believe to be the qualities of an effective group.

d.      Signatures:  The contract should be agreeable to all group members; discuss and negotiate it carefully to reach consensus.  All group members must sign and date the contract, indicating agreement to the terms.

**Since your mock trial and book group members will be the same, you should include a separate contract section including the above information.  While the instructor may provide class time for group discussion, you should also allow extra meeting time to successfully complete the assignments (as noted below).

Group Evaluation Link:

By Wednesday, April 28  you must complete and turn in an evaluation form - see group evaluation form link: mock trial group evaluation link (failure to do so will result in your individual project grade being lowered by 10 points). No late forms will be accepted!   On the form, you will answer these questions about yourself and your group members:

“Did this group member: Participate fully in the group process? Meet the obligations stated in the group contract? Maintain collegiality? Prepare effectively for the mock trial? Satisfactorily complete all required tasks?”

Here is further detail about the components of the question:

        Participate Fully:  Did this individual consistently participate over the course of the full semester to the satisfaction of the group?   This does not mean that the person had to do everything in the group; it simply means that he/she pulled his/her weight and didn’t slack off. Did this individual do his/her fair share of work on the project?  Was he/she willing to step up and take on tasks as necessary?

        Contract:  Refer back to the expectations you outlined in the group contract; did this individual meet them?

        Collegiality: Was this individual cooperative, considerate and respectful of group members (this does not necessarily mean that he/she agreed with each idea, concept, practice, etc.)?

    Mock Trial Presentation:  Was the group member prepared for the mock trial? 

        Satisfactorily Complete:  Did this individual actually do what he/she agreed to?  Was the work that was completed satisfactory (e.g., properly executed arguments, properly researched documents, etc.)?

Regardless of how you answer the questions, it is imperative that you justify your answer.  Accordingly, I will ask you to accompany your answers with a brief, but descriptive, narrative.  If you provide a negative evaluation of any group member, you must also specify what point deduction (out of a total 100 points - do not just state "the group member deserves a "C" for the project) you believe to be appropriate (it might be useful for your group to stipulate in the group contract how deductions will be determined). 
 

The professor has the right to adjust any and all grades (up or down, based upon student comments and personal observations)!
 

Attendance:

The student is expected to attend each class. Any student who misses more than one class will be deducted 30 points for each class missed. If a student has perfect attendance, he/she will be awarded 5 points bonus (to be added to any quiz grade or legal brief). Perfect attendance is defined as not missing any class, whether excused or not, including the first class of the semester. Since group work will be required for this course, attendance is critical! Tardiness will not be tolerated!! Any student who is tardy to class (without prior notification to instructor) may be denied entrance to the class and will be considered absent for that class period ( 2 tardies = 1 absence).  Any student not paying attention such as, falling asleep in class (if that is even possible in this course), working on another assignment, failing to pay attention during news briefs, text messaging, being ill-prepared for classroom discussion or case briefs, etc., may be counted absent for that day.

 
Book:   

Title:  And the Sea Will Tell (required)
Author:  Vincent Bugliosi
Year:  1991
ISBN: 13-978-0-393-32796-0

As noted above, this is not a text book; rather it is a true crime mystery story written by one of the case attorneys.  Mr. Bugliosi provides an in-depth analysis of the case and provides the reader with helpful tips on courtroom procedure.

Law dictionary of your choosing (optional)

Reading Assignments:

1.  Identify 3 major issues (per weekly reading assignment) that speak to the question(s) asked for that particular section to be discussed with your group members.  Your issues should be in the form of typed bullet points and must be turned into the instructor.  Therefore, make 2 copies of the issue statements; one for you to discuss with your classmates and the other for the instructor to review.  The point value for each weekly assignment will be worth up to 5 points. No late assignments will be accepted.

2.  Select someone from within your group to take notes on the discussion (you may wish to alternate weekly or keep the same person; that is up to you). Your discussion notes can then be used to assist in the writing of the sectional paper.

3.  Your paper must include the issues you are addressing and your in-depth, critical thought responses.

4.  Your sectional paper will be graded based upon content, understanding of the issues and grammar.

5.  Each sectional paper is worth up to 20 points

6.  Each member of the group will receive the same grade; however, you will have an opportunity to submit a point suggestion for other group members based upon your contract requirements.  For example, if your contract stipulates that all members of the group must actively participate in group discussion, you may wish to deduct points from any member who fails to do so.  I will assume each group member did what was expected, unless I  hear otherwise, so there is no need to submit an evaluation on each group member.  Please submit a "suggested" point deduction out of 20 points (e.g. deduct 5 points); don't just indicate the person should receive a "C" for the assignment.   You will also need a rationale why the point value should be deducted.  The instructor will then decide what value (if any) should be deducted.


Section 1:

The group paper assignment for this section will be as follows:

Due date:  Wednesday, February 24

Section 2:

The group paper assignment for this section will be as follows:

Due Date:  Wednesday, March 24

Section 3:

The group paper assignment for this section will be as follows:

Due Date: Wednesday, April, 28

Note:  Due dates are subject to change with notification by the professor.

Two-minute Review:

At the end of each class session, the student will have approximately 2 minutes to record the central issue(s) discussed during that class period.  The student should include any points that were of interest and any points that remain unclear, if any.  This should provide the student an opportunity to ask for clarification during the next class session, as well as to inform the professor on any points that were unclear and need to be revisited.

Other important information:  If you bring a cell phone to class, please turn off the ringer (you may wish to put the phone on vibrate).  If you receive a call during class, do NOT respond to the message unless it is an emergency that the entire class should be made aware of (example - a campus emergency).  Laptops and other computer/recording devices are NOT allowed to be in use during class. This will minimize unnecessary distractions that often accompany the use of these electronic devices (sorry - you will have to take notes the old fashion way - via handwriting).

Radford University is committed to the highest standards of academic honesty. Acts of academic dishonesty  include plagiarism, cheating, bribery, academic fraud, sabotage of research materials, the sale of academic papers, the purchase of academic papers, and the falsification of records. An individual who engages in these or related activities or who knowingly aids another who engages them, is acting in an academically dishonest manner and will be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with the bylaws and procedures of Radford University (See Student Handbook).

Each member of the academic community is expected to give full, fair, and formal credit to any and all sources that have contributed to the formulation of ideas, methods, interpretations, and findings. The absence of such formal credit is an affirmation that the work is fully the writer’s. The term "sources" includes, but is not limited to, published or unpublished materials, lectures, lecture notes, computer programs, mathematical and other symbolic formulations, course papers, examinations, theses, dissertations, and comments offered in class or informal discussions. The representation that such work of another is the writer’s represents plagiarism.

Care must be taken to document the source of any ideas or arguments. If the actual word of a source is used, it must appear within quotation marks. In cases that are unclear, the writer must take due care to avoid plagiarism.

The source should be cited whenever:

  1. A text is quoted verbatim
  2. Data gathered by another are presented in diagrams or tables/charts
  3. The results of a study conducted by another are used
  4. The work or intellectual effort of another is paraphrased by the writer.

Since the intent to deceive is not a necessary element (strict liability), careful note taking and record keeping is essential in order to avoid plagiarism. In other words, it is like being a little bit pregnant (you either are or you are not). One cannot have "accidental/unintentional" plagiarism!

Students should consult members of the faculty for clarification of the definition and substance of this policy on plagiarism as it applies to their particular discipline.

(Source: City University of New York – Proposal on Plagiarism).

Cases to be briefed (Additional cases may be assigned at the discretion of the instructor):

Case related to Criminal Evidence:

State v. Perkins: 130 W. Va. 708, 45 S.E.2d 17 (1947)

Cases related to Burden of Proof:

In Re Winship:   397 U.S. 358 (1970)
Victor v. Nebraska:
  511 U.S. (1994)
Martin v. Ohio:
  480 U.S. 228,  (1987)
 

Case related to Proof via Evidence:

Maddox v. Montgomery:
  718 F.2d 1033 (11th Cir. 1983)
 

Cases related to Judicial Notice:

State v. Robinson:
260 Ga. App. 186 (2003)
State v. Richardson
:  811 So.2d 154 (2002)
 

Case related to Presumptions, Inferences, and Stipulations:

Bozeman v. State: 
931 So. 2d 1006 (2006)

 
Cases related to Relevancy and Materiality:

Commonwealth v. Prashaw:  57 Mass. App. Ct. 19 (2003)
Jackson v. United States
:  856 A.2d 1111 (2004)
 


Case related to Competency of Evidence and Witnesses:

State v. Wells: 2003 Ohio 3162 (2003)
 

 
Case related to Examination of Witnesses:

U.S. v. Spivey:  841 F.2d 799 (1988)

 
Cases related to Privileges:

St. Clair v. Commonwealth:
174 S.W.3d 474 (2005)
State v. DeMarco:
275 N.J. Super. 311 (1994)
 


Cases related to Opinions and Expert Testimony:

Bowling v. State:  275 Ga. app. 45 (2005)
Osbourn v. State: 92 S.W.3d 531 (2002)
 

 
Cases related to Hearsay and Exceptions:

Bell v. State:  847 So. 2d 558 (2003)
Morgan v. Georgia: 
275 Ga. 222 (2002)
 

 
Cases related to Documentary Evidence:

Wilkerson v. State:  2005 Ark. App. Lexis 12 (2005)
McKeehan v.State:  838 So. 2d 1257 (2003)

 

Cases related to Real Evidence:

Schmerber v. California:  384 U.S. 757 (1966)
State v. Cowans: 336 Ill. App. 3d 173 (2003)
 

 
Cases related to Examination Results:

Commonwealth v. Gaynor:  443 Mass. 245 (2005)
City of Cleveland Heights v. Katz:  2002 Ohio 4241 (2001)
   

Student accommodations:

Students seeking accommodations are required to provide documentation from an appropriate health care provider or professional. The documentation must outline the functional limitations that substantially limit a major life activity. Providers are also asked to provide recommendations for reasonable accommodations based upon the disability. However, Radford University's disability services professionals ultimately decide on what accommodations are appropriate and reasonable.

Having a diagnosis is not the same as having a disability!

 

ADA Statement

If you are seeking classroom accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you are required to register with the Disability Resource Office (DRO). The DRO is located in Tyler Hall, Room 64; telephone number 831-6350; email address dro@radford.edu. To receive academic accommodations for this class, please obtain the proper DRO forms and meet with me no later than the second week of class during the regular semester session (or the second day of the class during the summer session).

 

The Learning Resource Center

The Learning Assistance and Resource Center (LARC), located in 126 Walker Hall, is open to all students Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.  Certified, trained tutors provide help with basic study skills, writing, and content-specific material.  An appointment is necessary and can be made by calling 831-7704, emailing larc@radford.edu, or IMing “rularcappt."