The United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit's 2017 term included important precedential opinions on a number of evidence topics. For example, in three published cases, the court again followed its trend of deferring to trial courts on the use of expert testimony, affirming all three in published opinions. The court also considered the interplay between a defendant's Sixth Amendment right to an effective cross-examination and the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida's authority to limit the scope of cross-examination.
The court offered few significant opinions regarding the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. However, in two unpublished opinions the court considered the unique realities law enforcement officers encounter while protecting the public. One case considered pre-Miranda questioning during a traffic stop where the officer personally knew the suspect, and the second case considered whether a defendant's pre-Miranda statement made after a high-stakes arrest could be offered at sentencing.
The Eleventh Circuit also issued two published opinions addressing the Federal Rules of Evidence's prohibition on character evidence. In one case involving a defendant's prosecution for healthcare fraud, the Eleventh Circuit held that evidence of prior communications with an informant, which implicated violent behavior, were properly before the jury. In another case, the court held that, under Rule 404(b), evidence of "structuring" deposits in a tax fraud case was properly admitted. This Survey of the Eleventh Circuit's 2017 opinions on evidentiary issues provides a concise summary of all of these rulings and provides the practitioner with a succinct overview of the most important evidence rulings.
Bassett, W. Randall; Leppert, Val; and Howard, Harris K.
Mercer Law Review: Vol. 69:
4, Article 10.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.mercer.edu/jour_mlr/vol69/iss4/10