27 June 2004

Va. Court of Appeals 06/25

English v. Commonwealth - Subject: Bounty hunters and the impersonation of police.

A bounty hunter may have the power to stop a car, ask about weapons, and identify the occupants. However, he cannot identify himself as an officer thru his words or a misleading badge and he cannot ask the driver to exit the car and inquire whether she has been drinking.

Smith v. Virginia - Subject: What must be done in order to preserve a trial judge's decision to allow the prosecutor to allow rebuttal testimony as to character.

The trial judge ruled that he would allow the prosecution to introduce rebuttal evidence if the Defense introduced evidence as to truthfulness and honesty. Because of this the Defense did not introduce the character evidence. Because the Defense did not introduce the character evidence the prosecution did not introduce the anti-character evidence. Without the prosecution's introduction of the evidence at trial there is nothing to appeal.

Comment: It makes a nice little circle doesn't it?

In all fairness, the prosecution probably should be allowed to enter evidence in rebuttal of any point which the Defense offers evidence. What is frustrating here is that the Curt of Appeals could have easily said that (in an even shorter opinion). Instead it ducks the question by not deciding whether the judge's decision was an error and placing an evidentiary introduction burden on the Defense if it wants to argue the judge's potential legal error.

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