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United States v.

Jackson
Notes
Special Agent Matthew White of the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tabaco
and Firearms ("ATF") was the principle government witness. He testified that, in
carrying out his duties, which included investigating illegal possession of firearms by
convicted felons, he and other agents of the ATF went on September 7, 1999 to
Jackson's apartment in the Bronx and asked him whether he had any firearms or
ammunition, whereupon Jackson showed them a safe containing a quantity of
ammunition. The agents seized the ammunition. To prove that Jackson was a
previously convicted felon, the government offered a certified copy of a judgment of
the New York Supreme Court for New York County (Manhattan) showing that on
January 11, 1984, a person named Aaron Jackson was convicted of unlawful
possession of a weapon and of a controlled substance. The government offered no
further evidence connecting the defendant to the 1984 conviction. The defendant
neither testified nor called witnesses in his defense. On summation, defense counsel
argued for the first time that the government had failed to prove that the Aaron
Jackson named in the certificate of conviction might be someone other than the
defendant on trial. The jury found the defendant guilty.
Issues
#1. Whether a fact-finder, given the evidence presented at trial of a 1984 conviction
record of a person named Aaron Jackson, could reasonably conclude beyond a
reasonable doubt from that evidence alone that the 1984 conviction was of the
defendant, Aaron L. Jackson.
Reasoning
We do not see how this evidence could possibly justify such a degree of
confidence. There was no reason to believe the defendant was the only person so
named. The name Jackson is quite common, and the first name Aaron, is also quite
common. New York is a city of nearly eight million inhabitants, plus a huge number
of additional visitors.
A conclusion cannot be reached with sufficient confidence to satisfy the
beyond-reasonable-doubt standard that two separate episodes involving persons of
similar features relate to the same person unless the similarities are sufficiently
distinctive to make it highly improbable that the two observed persons could be other
than the same. In this case, if there was prove of evidence that these two persons
showed identical DNA or identical fingerprints, we can conclude beyond reasonable
doubt that they must be the same person because of well-established scientific
information that a particular structure of DNA and a particular fingerprint
configuration occur in only one individual. A conclusion of identity cannot be made
beyond a reasonable doubt unless experience, statistics, teach it is far more likely,
given the similarities, that the two are the same person, than that they are two different
people.
No such judgment can be made with any reasonable degree of confidence
from two observations, eighteen years apart, of persons with the not-unusual name of
Aaron Jackson, in a city with a population exceeding eight million. The government
offered no evidence that the two Aaron Jackson were of the same race, or of similar
height, coloring, finger print configuration, or even general physical description.
There was no showing of the previously convicted Aaron's age. There was no showing
that he was resident of New York, much less that he lived at the same address as the

defendant, or that two shared any other significantly narrowing features. In short, on
this evidence, a jury could not reasonable conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that the
two Aaron Jackson's were the same.
Holding
The conviction was reversed because there wasn't sufficient evidence to prove
that the defendant Aaron L. Jackson was the same person as the Aaron Jackson 18
years ago.

People v. Solmonson
Facts
The testimony at trial established that the police found defendant unconscious
in the driver's seat of a Chevrolet Cavalier station wagon with an open can of beer
between his legs at 3:45 AM. The car was parked just outside the white fog lines but
was still on the road pavement. Although the engine was off, the keys were in the
ignition and the engine was still warm. Defendant was alone but there were five full
cans of cold beer on the passenger seat and one empty can in the back. The police
found no one else in the area. When two deputy sheriffs woke defendant and
identified themselves, defendant replied, "You guys are f**king assholes." The
deputies testified that defendant tried to turn the ignition key but one of the deputies
prevented him from doing so. Defendant failed sobriety tests of reciting the alphabet
and counting backwards. Defendant told the deputies that, "This is bullshit," and just
to take him to the "f**cking jail." Defendant also told the deputies that he was coming
from a neighboring county, where he had been working, that he started drinking at 6
PM that night, and that he had consumed six beers. Both deputies testified without
objection that defendant never denied being the driver of a Cavalier. A blood test
showed that the defendant had a BAC of 0.21, and the legal limit at the time was 0.10.
Issues
#1. Whether a rational trier of fact could have found all the elements of the offense
proved beyond a reasonable doubt by circumstantial evidence and reasonable
inferences therefrom.
Reasoning
Defendant relies on People v. Wood, and People v. Burton, to argue that he
was not "operating" the parked car when the police found him unconscious in the
driver's seat, and there was reasonable doubt that he drove to the location while
intoxicated. However, in People v. Wood, the defendant was sleeping and held that a
"person sleeping in a motionless car cannot be held to presently operating a vehicle
while sleeping". Although the defense counsel argued below that someone else drove
defendant to where the police found him, he presented no evidence at trial to support
that theory. More, the prosecution need not disprove all theories consistent with
defendant's innocence; it need only introduce sufficient evidence to convince a
reasonable jury of its theory of guilt despite the contradictory theory or evidence a
defendant may offer. Also, the trial court specifically instructed the jury regarding the
element of "operating" that a person "sleeping in a motionless car...cannot follow the
trial court's instructions, the jury must have concluded from circumstantial evidence
and reasonable inferences that the prosecutor met his burden of proving defendant
was operating the vehicle in an intoxicated state before the police arrived.
Holding
Because this Court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the jury
verdict, the defendant's conviction must be affirmed. Defendant was convicted of
operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or while
having an alcohol content of 0.10.

State v. Rimmer
Notes
During the middle 1980's, the Defendant had an on-again-off-again romantic
relationship with the victim. They started dating sometime after the victim obtained a
divorce in 1977 from her first husband, Donald Eugene Ellsworth, by whom she had
two children. At the time, the victim was apparently struggling with a drinking
problem and Ellsworth was experiencing drug problems. Later, after his relationship
with the victim had come to an end, the Defendant was indicted for the aggravated
assault and rape of the victim and the first degree burglary of her residence. In 1989,
he entered pleas of guilt to each charge and was sentenced to the Department of
Correction.
During his incarceration, the victim often accompanied the Defendant's
mother, Sandra Rimmer, on visits to the prison. Because the victim participated in a
religious program that ministered inmates from about 1988 to 1992, she saw the
Defendant regularly. According to the Defendant's mother, the victim and the
Defendant displayed affection for each other during the prison visits. Despite this
purported renewal of their relationship, however, there was evidence that during this
period of time, the defendant informed two inmates, Roger LeScure and William
Conaley, of his desire to kill the victim upon his release from the prison. He even
described to LeScure how he intended to dispose of her body. The Defendant
explained to the inmates that he blamed the victim for his incarceration and was
entitled to money from her.
The Defendant was released by the Department of Correction in October of
1996 and began work at an auto body repair shop in Memphis. By that time, the
victim, who was employed as a night auditor at the Memphis Inn, had remarried
Donald Ellsworth and had experienced some success in controlling his alcohol
problems.
On Feb. 7, 1997, the victim was scheduled to begin her shift at 11:00 PM. Her
husband awakened her and kissed her goodbye. She drove to the hotel in her 1989
Dodge Dynasty. The only access to her office was through a door, which was locked,
or through a small opening in the glass security window. Several hotel guests saw the
victim at her office desk between 1:00 and 2:00 AM. Before 2:00 AM one of the
guests noticed a "dark-maroonish brown" car that had been backed into an area near
the hotel entrance. Although it was raining at the time, the trunk was open.
At about 2:30 AM, Raymond Summers, a railroad supervisor with CSX
Transportation, drove to the hotel when the management service was unable to make
telephone contact with a work crew, which was staying there overnight. Because no
one was at the front desk, Summers entered the office area. When he heard the sound
of water running in the office restroom, he looked inside and discovered blood
splatters in the sink, the wall, the toilet bowl, and some towels. He reported his
findings to Shelby County officers who were leaving a nearby Denny's Restaurant.
The officers notified Linda Spencer, the hotel manager, who lived on the premises.
When they investigated, they discovered signs of a struggle in the office area. There
were "puddles" of blood throughout the restroom. The sink was cracked, and the lid
had been ripped off the commode. There was a trail of blood approx. 39 feet long that
led from the restroom, through the equipment room, office, reception area, and to the
vending space. The trail ended on the curb outside the night entrance, indicating that
the victim may have been dragged from the restroom curb. Some $600 in cash was
missing from the register, and three sets of sheets had been taken from the equipment
room. Officer Robert Moore of the Memphis Police found a green cigarette lighter

under a bloody towel and discovered the victim's gold ring between the office and the
bathroom.
Sgt. Robert Shemwell of the homicide department testified that during the
investigation the police questioned Richard Rimmer, the Defendant's brother, and
Richard Rimmer's ex-girlfriend, Joyce Frazier. According to Sgt. Shemwell, the
Defendant appeared at his brother's house during the morning hours after the murder.
The Defendant's car was muddy and so were his shoes. The back seat of the car
appeared to be wet. There was a shovel inside. The Defendant had asked Richard
Rimmer, who was a carpet cleaner, if he knew how to get blood out of carpet. Richard
Rimmer admitted that sometime after he had learned of the victim's disappearance, he
disposed of the shovel in a dumpster.
The Police learned that the Defendant left Memphis without taking the last
paycheck he was due from his employer. He gave no notice of his departure. He also
left without taking his work tools or the clothing he had stored in the room he
occupied.
On March 5, 1997, Michael Adams, a Johnson County, Indiana deputy,
stopped the Defendant, checked the license plate number on the Honda, and
determined that the vehicle had been reported as stolen in early January. The
Defendant was arrested for possession of stolen vehicle and public intoxication. He
registered 0.06 on a blood-alcohol test. A receipt in the vehicle indicated that the
Defendant was in Myrtle, Mississippi on the day after the victim's disappearance.
Receipts from FL, Missouri, WY, MT, CA, AZ, and TX with dates ranging from Feb.
13, five days after the police were alerted of the crime, to March 3, 1997, two days
before the Defendant's arrest, were found in the vehicle.
There were bloodstains on the carpet and on a seat belt in the back seat of the
Honda. Subsequent testing of the stains in the car revealed that the DNA from the
blood was consistent with the bloodline of the victims mother, Marjorie Floyd, who
lived in Florence, Alabama. It was also consistent with the blood type of the victim, as
compared through a sample previously taken from a pap smear. Frank Baetchel, the
FBI forensic expert who performed the tests, also examined a bloody hotel towel
found at the Memphis Inn, concluding that the blood sample matched the stains found
inside the Honda.
Issue
#1. Whether the jury was properly instructed in defining "reasonable doubt".
#2. Whether the ailing instruction by itself so infected the entire trial that the resulting
conviction violates due process.
Reasoning
The Defendant specifically calls our attention to the words "reasonable doubt
does not mean a doubt that may arise from possibility". He argues that this sentence
lowered the burden of proof from guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. He asserts that the
jury might have understood the instruction to permit a conviction on insufficient
evidence.
However, one ambiguous term does not necessarily constitute an error: Jurors
do not sit in solitary isolation booths parsing instructions for subtle shades of meaning
in the same way that lawyers might. Differences among them in interpretation of
instructions may be thrashed out in the deliberative process, with commonsense
understanding of the instructions in the light of all that has taken place at the trial
likely to prevail over technical hairsplitting. By the application of this standard, we do

not find a reasonable likelihood that the jury applied the burden of proof in an
unconstitutional way.
Holding
On November 7th, 1998, Michael Dale Rimmer was convicted of theft,
aggravated robbery, and the first-degree murder of the victim, Ricci Ellsworth. A
Shelby County Jury imposed the death sentence.
Problem #16
Defendant: Technically, no body or person was in the car, so the car was not taken by
force. The door was open and the engine was still on. They were also never intending
to take the baby, as well. When the man pleaded for his child, the Defendants gave up
the baby right away.
Prosecutor: The Defendant was intentional trying to carjack because not only did they
see a car, and run off with it, with an intention to permanently deprive, but also
threatened the owner of the car, when the victim of car approached towards them and
the stolen car. They pointed a gun towards him and threatened to shoot, if necessary.
If the Defendant had no intention of false imprisonment, they should not have
threatened the victim when the victim asked for his child.
Problem #17
Defendant: The Defendant was present at Bigfish Grill, not to talk to Odo, but to talk
to the kitchen manager of Bigfish Grill who wanted to have a conversation with the
Defendant. The Defendant was also not physically in the Grill, but was outside of the
work place. The Defendant had no intention of going in the Grill, and did not break or
enter into Bigfish Grill in any way. There isn't sufficient evidence to prove beyond a
reasonable doubt that the Defendant was going in or near the bar to make contact with
Odo.
Prosecutor: Although it not may be physically in Bigfish Grill, the FRO prohibits
Defendant "from being at Odo's place of employment". The Defendant was at the
parking lot, but chose to walk towards the direct of the restaurant and eventually to
the front of Bigfish Grill which clearly violates the FRO. The entrance and the
property immediately around the Grill is still a part of the Bigfish Grill, which
constitutes as Odo's place of employment.