Briefing the Case Using the IRAC Method
Ralph Patel was charged with the murder of Stephen Dale and was brought to trial. The victim was shot dead, and a 38 caliber bullet was ejected from the body during the autopsy. Patel faced the arrest two days after the shooting, and his house was searched as he was accused of murder. During the search, a dozen handguns, including one AK-47 and three rifles with sniper scopes, were found. However, none of the guns did match up with the bullet that was ejected from the body. In a pre-trial motion, the defense has moved to exclude the evidence of the guns found in Dales house, based on its irrelevance to the case. The judge should decide on the admissibility of the evidence in this case.
In the particular case under analysis the issue, which is presented to the court, is the admissibility of the evidence. The confronting parties here are the defense, which represents the interests of Ralph Patel, accused of murder, and the judge, who is supposed to make a decision, based on all the presented facts. The question of evidences admissibility is problematic because none of the guns, possessed by Patel, did match with the bullet, which was found in the victims body. As Melear (2013) states in her article, if the weapon which was not used in the crime is introduced as evidence, the trial court must consider its relevancy, either to the perpetration of the crime or to the credibility of a witness, and then weigh the probative value, if any, against the possibility of unfair prejudice to the defendant (p. 321). Therefore, the admission of Patels firearms to the evidence might serve as a prejudgement of the defendant. However, to solve the presented issue, one should dwell upon other cases related to the firearm case law, compare them to the problem under consideration, and then the conclusion could be made.
As it was mentioned before, the essential law, which is applied to such matters, is the Second Amendment that permits the United States citizens to possess and carry arms. Additionally, another law which could be applied to the related case is the , which is regulated by the . This law regulates the legitimacy of the evidence admission in the situations when such admission will adversely influence the defendant (or when it is needed to justify the defendants reprehensive behaviour). Thus, to put the analyzed problem into a proper context, one should touch upon the significant cases related to the Second Amendment since those cases interpretation of the firearm law could be relevant to the briefed case. The admissibility of the bad character evidence will also be observed.
The first case which should be considered is theDistrict of Columbia v. Heller(2008) in which the Supreme Court upheld that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home (para. 2). Also, it was specially stated that the Districts total ban on handgun possession in the home amounts to a prohibition on an entire class of arms that for the lawful purpose of self-defense (District of Columbia v. Heller, 2008, para. 10). It means that, according to the courts decision, the handguns are not considered as a criminal matter of possession; moreover, they are mentioned as the means of lawful self-defense.
Two years later, in the case ofMcDonald v. Chicago(2010) , the Supreme Court mentioned the Hellers case and ruled that a provision of the Bill of Rights that protects a right that is fundamental from an American perspective applies equally to the Federal Government and the States (para. 7). This case was a turning point in the history of firearm law, because it finally made the law applicable on the federal level.