Connected Crimes

The court of appeals decided State v. Howard earlier this week. The opinion addresses several issues, but I want to focus on what is sometimes called the connected crimes doctrine, which allows the state to introduce evidence of uncharged crimes closely related to a charged offense notwithstanding Rule 404(b)’s limitations on evidence of uncharged bad … Read more

The Sexual Assault Exception to the “Bare Fact” Rule

Yesterday, I taught a class on the use of Rule 404(b) evidence in sexual assault cases. During the class, we discussed the general rule against admitting the bare fact of a defendant’s prior conviction. As Jessie discussed here, the basic idea is that even when Rule 404(b) evidence is admissible, if the bad act at … Read more


State v. Davis: Rule 404(b) and Remote Convictions

I wrote here about the court of appeals’ recent ruling in State v. Davis that expert testimony calculating the defendant’s alcohol concentration based on odor alone was improperly admitted at defendant’s trial on second-degree murder, impaired driving, and other charges arising from a fatal hit-and-run accident. This post addresses the court’s ruling in Davis as … Read more

Significant Fourth Circuit Drug Case

Because our appellate courts often find the Fourth Circuit’s opinions to be persuasive authority, I read all the Fourth Circuit’s published criminal cases. Yesterday, the court decided United States v. Johnson, a drug case involving two noteworthy issues. The short version of the facts is as follows: Officers wiretapped a suspected drug dealer’s phone. The … Read more