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Old Chief v. United States Brief Case

Summary of Old Chief v. United States, 519 U.S. 172 (1997)

Facts: D was arrested for assault with deadly weapon and charged with a federal crime which prohibits possession of a firearm by someone who has previously been convicted of a felony.  D had previous conviction of assault with a gun for which he was sentenced for 5 years.  During trial, D argued that the prosecution shouldn’t be allowed to introduce evidence regarding the nature of his previous felony under FRE 403 because probative value substantially outweighed by prejudice.  D willing to stipulate that he had a prior felony.  Prosecution argued that it should be left alone to present its case.

Procedure:  Trial court admitted evidence and 9th Cir. affirmed.

Issue: Was the evidence of the nature of D’s prior felony admissible?

Holding: No

Rationale:  The D was willing to stipulate that had prior felony and this would meet the element of the federal crime he is being charged with.  The prosecution’s argument that it should be allowed to present evidence of choice strong but not persuasive here.  Showing the nature of D’s last felony has very little probative value, because needed only show that D had prior conviction which can be done by stipulation.  But the danger of prejudicial effects is very high.  Therefore, the district court abused it’s discretion by overriding D’s stipulation and allowing the prosecution present the evidence.



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