ILNews

7th Circuit cautions bare-bones recitation of Rule 403 insufficient

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A District Court’s failure to review evidence and provide a considered analysis for admitting that evidence drew an admonishment – but no reversal - from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The 7th Circuit affirmed Christopher Eads’s conviction and 40-year sentence for distributing child pornography, possessing child pornography and tampering with a witness in United States of America v. Christopher Eads, 12-2466.

Prior to his trial, Eads, representing himself, agreed to stipulate that the images and videos found in his possession depicted unlawful child pornography.

When the government prepared to show those images to the jury, however, Eads objected. He argued that the government had no need to present the photos and short video because of the stipulation. Eads stated that showing the images would be unreasonably prejudicial, citing Federal Rule of Evidence 403.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, overruled.

On appeal, Eads asserted the district court erred because it did not examine the pictures and videos itself before admitting them into evidence. He also argued that the District Court should have given a more robust explanation of how it balanced the factors under Rule 403 in deciding to admit the images.

The 7th Circuit noted there is some uncertainty as to whether the lower court did review the actual photos and videos. Still, it reiterated its past advice that the “safest course,” especially given the highly inflammatory nature of this type of evidence, is for the District Court to review the contested evidence itself to determine if the potential prejudicial impact is too great.

In regards to Rule 403, the 7th Circuit agreed with Eads.

The district court responded to Eads objections during trial, saying the photos were relevant to the government proving its case beyond a reasonable doubt. This caused the 7th Circuit to caution the lower court against a “pro-forma recitation of the Rule 403.” Instead, the District Court should have carefully analyzed the prejudicial effect of the evidence and offered a detailed explanation of how it balanced the factors under Rule 403.

Still, the 7th Circuit found the admission of the images was a harmless error. The evidence against Eads was overwhelming and showing the pictures to the jury did not change the outcome of the trial.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  4. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  5. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

ADVERTISEMENT