LA103 – Legal Writing – Victor Del Pino – Class Notes for Mon. Feb.

6, 2011 – by Michael Benefiel Prof. Del Pino Case Brief Format: 1. Heading – Use correct case citation, for example: State of Maryland v. Victor Del Pino, 1 Ct.App. 44 (1999) 2. Fact section – Summarize relevant facts of the case, especially those which lead to the legal issue to be decided by the court 3. Legal issue – Formulate as a question and use a question mark, for example: Did the police exceed the permission given by the search warrant to look for drugs when they seized the bloody rag as potential evidence in an unrelated murder case? 4. Holding – Court’s answer to legal issue in item #3 5. Conclusion & Analysis – Reasoning of the court in coming to its answer to the legal issue. This section will be particularly important as student’s show how well we understand the legal reasoning of the court. Professor Del Pino presented some hypothetical situations for class discussion. He also mentioned an important Maryland case, Ayala v. State 174 Md.App. 647, 923 A.2nd 952. The Ayala case was tried in PG County Circuit Court. When the defendant was convicted of murder, he appealed to the Special Court of Appeals. One of the issues was whether the expert police witness could mention gang related evidence (including photos) which shed light on the defendant’s motivation, or whether such evidence was inadmissible because it would prejudice the jury. Class hypothetical case for discussion on Mon. Feb. 6: Terry was arrested for distribution of cocaine. He was caught red-handed in an undercover police operation and at the scene, the police found 5 pounds of cocaine, $5,000 in cash, and scales for weighing drugs in his car. The police took Terry into custody and applied for a search warrant to enter his home. The search warrant described the circumstances of his arrest (probably cause) and listed its purpose as to search for drugs and drug paraphernalia. When the police searched Terry’s home, they found a bloody rag, which they seized and tested. The DNA came back to Charlie, who was a victim of a killing and also involved in drug dealing. The police want to add a charge of murder to their drug charges against Terry. Rachel asked: “Can the police seize the bloody rag when the search warrant was authorization for them to search for drugs and drug paraphernalia?” Jennifer argued: “Yes, otherwise the killer could go free.”

Prof. Del Pino conducted a vote to see how many members of the class agreed with Rachel or Jennifer. He then said that as a judge, he would find them both right, which means both have articulated valid arguments and the legal issue has been raised in the form of a good question. Can the State’s Attorney (Prosecutor) get the DNA blood evidence admitted as legally seized with the authorization of a valid search warrant? Both the criminal defense attorney and the prosecutor will have to research the legal issue and present arguments to the court. Prof Del Pino told a memorable experience of his: A judge listened to the facts of a case, the statement of the legal issue, then said to both lawyers: “Now we get to the sexy time!” For this judge, the arguments between the two sides – and this conflict – was the exciting part of a case.

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