DC CIVIL PROTECTION HEARINGS/TRIAL AND DISCOVERY

The Civil Protection filing and litigation although has an expansive reach in enforcing a range of orders, has a limited scope with regards to witness statement under the Jencks Act and generally discovery before the hearing. Moreover, the threshold burden of proof is rather low.  Specifically, the Statute provides: If, after hearing, the judicial officer finds that there is good cause to believe the respondent has committed or threatened to commit a criminal offense against the petitioner or against petitioner’s animal or an animal in petitioner’s household, the judicial officer may issue a protection order that: Directs the respondent to
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UNSEAL ADOPTION RECORDS: DC COURT OF APPEALS

The Court of Appeals in In re G.D.L., decided on January 2, 2020, addressed the legal criteria to have the adoption records unsealed. The appellant who was no longer a minor sought a court order release of his adoption records, original birth certificate, and biological parental information. The trial court in balancing all interests  involved in deciding the motion for disclosure ordered to protect G.D.L.’s birth father’s information and directed the child-placement agency to give G.D.L. redacted copies of the original birth certificate and adoption records.  The biological mother’s information was already known to the appellant and not subject of
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SEALING OF AN ARREST RECORD & THE “INTEREST OF JUSTICE” STANDARD: DC COURT OF APPEALS

The Court of Appeals recently in Larracuente v. U.S., determined and defined more precisely application of “Interest of Justice” provision of the sealing of the arrest record Statute. Appellant moved pursuant to D.C. Code § 16-803.02 to seal his records where he had pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute (PWID) marijuana.  The trial court concluded that the government had shown by a preponderance of the evidence that appellant possessed an amount of marijuana that exceeded the amount decriminalized, that is more than two ounces and moreover sealing of the record was not available nor discretionary under the “interest
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LEGAL CRITERIA FOR PENDENTE LITE ALIMONY

DC Code § 16–911, titled Pendente lite relief, allows for filing of a petition for support during the pendency of: A legal separation, Divorce; or The termination of a domestic partnership In such cases, the court may require one party after holding a hearing to make payment of: A pendente lite alimony, or Child support Health insurance coverage or Suit money, including counsel fees. The Court generally considers the same factors in awarding alimony to dispense Pendente lite alimony and support, that is: Ability of the party seeking alimony to be wholly or partly self-supporting; Time necessary for the party
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4TH AMENDMENT VIOLATION: RECENT COURT OF APPEALS DECISION

The Court of Appeals in Dozier v. U.S., decided on December 5, 2019, reversed and remanded conviction for Possession with Intent to Distribute (PWID) due to constitutional violations. Appellant was observed in a high crime area and at night emerging from a dark ally, four Officers in a cruiser entered the ally and two approached asking if they could speak to the appellant, as appellant walked away ignoring the question, the officers persisted asking him if he had any weapons on him which he replied no and whether he would lift his shirt for a visual inspection which the appellant
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ADMISSIBILITY OF PRIOR BAD ACT: DC COURT OF APPEALS REVERSAL

The Court of Appeals in Jackson v. U.S., decided on June 27, 2019, determined whether the trial court had erred in admitting evidence of prior PCP use by the defendant before committing assault with a deadly weapon. (“ADW”). Factually, appellant was convicted of assaulting his roommate with a knife and prior to the trial, the government moved to admit evidence of recent use of PCP to bolster a case for erratic behavior by the defendant prior to the assault. The court admitted the evidence justifying that such would provide context and serve to explain the defendant’s observations, beliefs, and behaviors in
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SEARCH WARRANT BASED ON YOUTUBE VIDEO HELD INVALID

The Court of Appeals in Andrews v. D.C., decided on August 5, 2019, reversed convictions for possession of an unregistered firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition based on invalidity of underlying search warrant. Factually, the police officer in support of the issuing warrant had stated that in a reviewing a YouTube video, individuals were depicted displaying handguns that appeared to be functional and operable. The officer further had stated that location of the video was recognized as a parking lot at the 3500 block of 6th Street, S.E. and moreover, one of the individuals in the video was recognized to
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RECENT COURT OF APPEALS DECISION: UNLAWFUL ENTRY REVERSED

The Court of Appeals in Foster v. U.S., decided on November 7, 2019, reversed and vacated the defendant’s conviction for unlawful entry. Foster who was according to his rental lease part of a housing complex consisting of two distinct units — Hopkins I&II was barred by a security guard from the Hopkins I complex for violating the housing rules and two days thereafter was arrested for an unlawful entry into the complex. Foster argued on appeal that the trial record showed insufficient evidence that Hopkins Apartments consisted of more than one legally distinct DCHA property, especially when considering the lease
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SAME SEX COMMON LAW MARRIAGE AND PERSONAL JURISDICTION

The DC Court of Appeals in Spellman v. Kelly, decided in July 2016, while addressing personal jurisdiction validated in essence validity of a common law marriage claim. Factually, Mr. Spellman and Mr. Kelly, who both lived in the District, met in 1988 and began dating.  On or about 1998, the two decided to live together and to hold themselves out as partners. Kelly also owned a home in Delaware, where he and Spellman stayed on the weekends and over the holidays.  After Kelly retired in 2006, he began spending more of his time at his Delaware home although continued consulting
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DOUBLE JEOPARDY CLAUSE OF THE 5TH AMENDMENT: DC COURT OF APPEALS

The Court of Appeals in Andre v. U.S., decided on August 19, 2019, determined the scope and implications of the Double Jeopardy Clause. At trial, Andre was convicted of two counts of simple assault and sentenced and served seven days on each count while his case was on appeal.  Due to conflict of interest of his trial counsel, his convictions were overturned on appeal and case was remanded at which time the government moved to prosecute him again on the same changes one more time. Andre argued on appeal that the Double Jeopardy Clause of the Fifth Amendment barred his
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