Review Questions

Review Questions

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  1. May testimony concerning the results of experiments and tests made out of court be admitted in a criminal trial? What are the requirements? What are the considerations in determining the admissibility of evidence under the Federal Rules of Evidence?
  2. What was the decision in the Daubert case? How did Daubert change prior practice in federal courts? (SS15.1)
  3. What constitutional provisions are usually referred to when challenging examinations of the body for such things as traces of blood, bruises, and marks? (SS15.2)
  4. In addition to blood, what other substances are used to determine blood-alcohol content? What other tests are performed and what conditions must be met before using this evidence in court? (SS15.3)
  5.  What is the purpose of implied consent statutes? Have these been held unconstitutional? May evidence of refusal to take a blood-alcohol test be introduced at trial? Explain. (SS15.3)
  6.  Give examples of the uses of blood grouping tests and blood comparisons in criminal cases. (SS15.4)
  7. State in nontechnical terms how the polygraph operates. What three approaches have been taken by various courts to determine the admissibility of polygraph evidence? Is polygraph evidence per se inadmissible? (SS15.5)
  8. How does the "truth serum" procedure differ from the polygraph test? Is evidence obtained while a person is under the influence of "truth serum" admissible in a criminal case? Explain. (SS15.6)
  9. Is testimony regarding fingerprint comparisons for identification purposes authorized in a criminal case? How can one qualify as a fingerprint expert? Are the police required to take fingerprints at the scene of a crime? Must the officer give the Miranda warnings before taking fingerprints? (SS15.7)
  10. How does one qualify as a witness to testify about the results of ballistics experiments? Give examples of some of the subjects of ballistics expert testimony. (SS15.8)
  11. How is RADAR used to measure speed? What are the requirements for using the results in court? (SS15.9)
  12.  What is the principle behind laser speed detection? How has the admissibility of this evidence been facilitated by some state legislatures? (SS15.9)
  13. What is the theory of the spectrogram voice identification technique? Are the results of this technique admissible in a criminal case for identification purposes? (SS15.10)
  14.  Has any court approved the use of neutron activation analysis as a means of detecting the presence of certain chemical elements? Are there any dangers in using this method? Explain. (SS15.11)
  15. Describe the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) test. How is this test used in criminal cases? Has the test been approved by state courts? By federal courts? Do the courts take judicial notice of the reliability of DNA evidence? List and discuss the defendant's avenues of attack. (SS15.12)
  16. The defendant in the case of United States v. Martinez was convicted of sexual abuse of a minor. On appeal, he challenged the use of DNA profiling evidence by the trial court. After referring to other cases and publications, the court reached some conclusions. What is the test for assessing the reliability of novel scientific evidence? How does the Frye test differ from the Federal Rules of Evidence (Daubert) test? Did the court find that DNA profiling meets admissibility requirements? If the general theory of DNA testing is valid, how can the defense challenge the use of such evidence? (United States v. Martinez, Part II)
  17. In this federal case, the defendant was convicted of submitting false claims to Medicare and Medicaid, obstructing justice, and making false declarations to a grand jury. The sole issue on appeal was whether the district court erred when it excluded evidence of a polygraph examination offered by the defendant. The reviewing court discussed the various methods of conducting polygraph examinations and reviewed the decisions handed down by the United States Supreme Court, as well as decisions rendered by the circuit court. According to the decision in this and other cases, are the results of polygraph examinations inadmissible per se in federal court? Under what circumstances, if any, may polygraph evidence be admitted? If polygraph evidence is admitted to corroborate or impeach the testimony of a witness at trial, may the trial court exclude the polygraph evidence on other grounds? Did the district court abuse its discretion in excluding the polygraph evidence in this case? (United States v. Gilliard, Part II)
  18. In the City of Cleveland Heights v. Katz, a police officer observed a vehicle traveling at an elevated level of speed and clocked the vehicle with a radar unit. A municipal court convicted Katz of speeding and he appealed, contending that the radar gun and the instruments used to calibrate the radar gun had not been shown to have been properly tested. What steps must a police officer take to accurately clock a potential speeder with scientific instruments? What steps can a police department be forced to follow in order to prove that an instrument worked properly? Was the radar device properly maintained and serviced? Would you have overturned the conviction? Why or why not? (City of Cleveland Heights v. Katz, Part II)