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Brief a case - Essay Example

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Summary
He appealed his conviction and sentence in the Court of Appeal of Florida, Third District.
Facts: The appellant was arrested and charged…
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Bell v Court of Appeal of Florida, Third District, 2003 Legal History: The appellant was convicted and sentenced on a charge of attempted kidnapping in the Circuit Court for Dade County, Florida. He appealed his conviction and sentence in the Court of Appeal of Florida, Third District.
Facts: The appellant was arrested and charged with attempted kidnapping after the victim, who was hysterical, telephoned the police. Once the police responded to the victim’s telephone call, it took up to twenty minutes for the victim to calm down enough to make a statement. In her statement, the victim reported that she had been approached by the appellant from his van as she walked along the street earlier in the day. The appellant offered to take her to where she was going. She did not accept the offer and continued walking. She then saw the victim standing next to his van. The appellant took the victim by the neck at gun point in an attempt to get her into his van against her will. However, the victim was able to free herself and ran home, where she telephoned the police.
Legal Issues: Did the trial err in its decision to allow the victim’s hearsay statement via a police officer under the hearsay exception relative to excited utterances?
Holding: The judgment of the lower court was affirmed and therefore the appellant’s appeal was dismissed.
Legal Reasoning: Pursuant to Florida Statute Section 90.803(2) (2001), an excited utterance is an exception to the rule against hearsay when the statement/excited utterance relates to a “startling event or condition” and is made while the maker of the statement/excited utterance “is under duress” (Bell v State, 2003). An excited utterance is made when the event causing excitement is “startling enough to cause excitement” (Bell v State, 2003). The statement is required to have been made “before there was time to contrive or misrepresent” (Bell v State, 2003). The statement must also be made when the speaker is “under the stress of excitement caused by the event” (Bell v State, 2003). In order to be an excited utterance, it is not necessary for the statement be made in a manner contemporaneous to the event causing excitement. All that is necessary for establishing an excited utterance is that the speaker is excited when the statement is made. Pursuant to Section 90.803(2) an excited state of mind may persist for a while following the event. It is for the court to determine whether or not the statement was made in an excited state. In determining whether or not the speaker made the statement in an excited state of mind the court may consider the speaker’s age, mental and physical conditions, the event itself and the contents of the statement. According to the responding officer’s evidence, the victim was clearly hysterical and scared when he arrived at her home. She was too upset to speak initially. Thus the trial court was at liberty to conclude that the victim’s state of mind was one of duress and excitement emanating from the event that she described to the officer. Even if the judge had erred, the error did not cause irreversible harm since the victim testified, providing the appellant with ample opportunities to cross-examine the victim relative to the veracity of the statement given to the police.
United States v Napier
Court of Appeal, 9th Circuit, 1975
Legal History: The appellant was convicted by a jury on four counts of interstate transportation of a stolen vehicle pursuant to 18 USC Section 2312 known as the Dyer Act and one count of interstate kidnapping pursuant to 18 USC Section 1201 known as the Lindbergh Act. The appellant appealed against his conviction.
Facts: The appellant was alleged to have kidnapped a woman in Oregon and taken her to Washington and had driven the victim’s stolen car to Oregon again. The evidence revealed that the victim was discovered unconscious, suffering from serious head injuries near Vancouver, Washington. A broken firearm was discovered near her body and her blood and hair were matched to blood and hair found on the weapon’s hammer. The appellant’s fingerprints were found on the weapon’s barrel. Tire tracks near the scene matched those of the victim’s car. The car was subsequently recovered in Oregon. The appellant’s fingerprints were found on the victim’s car and his personal documents were also discovered in the victim’s purse which was found in the victim’s car. The victim was admitted into hospital and had brain surgery and was said to have suffered brain damage and was therefore incapable of testifying. Her sister testified that a week following the victim’s release from the hospital she was shown a newspaper article with the appellant’s picture. The victim’s immediate reaction was to point at the appellant’s picture and state in “great distress and horror and upset”, “he killed me, he killed me” (US v Napier, 1975).
Legal Issues: Did the court err in allowing an out-of-court statement by the victim into evidence as a “spontaneous exclamation” and thus an exception to the rule against hearsay? (US v Napier, 1975).
Holding: The appellant’s appeal is without merit and was accordingly dismissed and the judgment of the lower court affirmed.
Legal Reasoning: The court expressed the view that the statement allegedly made by the victim fall within the hearsay exception of either an excited utterance of a spontaneous exclamation. Pursuant to Fed. R. Evid. 803(2) any statement relative to a “startling event or condition made while the declarant was under the stress of excitement caused by the event or condition” is an exception to the rule against hearsay (US v Napier, 1975). The appellant argued that the statement was made in reference to the assault and therefore was not a spontaneous exclamation. The court reasoned however, that the victim’s statement was made in response to the appellant’s photograph and that was the qualifying startling event, thus the statement was a spontaneous exclamation. Therefore the victim’s statement in response to the photograph is sufficient to constitute the spontaneous exclamation exception to the rule against hearsay. Although spontaneous exclamations usually apply to accidents, assaults and such events, it is not restricted to these types of incidents. The court will look at the specific facts and circumstance of the case. Since the victim had not previously discussed the assault with her family, her response to the appellant’s photograph would amount to a spontaneous exclamation. She was “unexpectedly” shown a picture of the man who assaulted her and thus her response was spontaneous and not one that could be said to have been contrived. Read More
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