Saturday, June 23, 2007

A sad case

In United States v. Harrow, __ No. 06-0474/AF (C.A.A.F. June 22, 2007), Airman Basic Harrow was found guilty of killing her infant daughter.

Judge Ryan's majority opinion first lays out the facts demonstrating that that daughter was likely killed as the result of injuries suffered when Harrow threw her against a wall. The opinion then examines a number of issues, most significantly limitations on the defense's attempts to impeach an alternate suspect and government witness with prior inconsistent statements, 404(b) evidence introduced against Harrow, and two pieces of profile evidence dealing with perpetrators of child abuse offenses. CAAF concluded that: (1) the limitations placed on the use of the prior inconsistent statements were error but harmless; (2) the use of the 404(b) evidence was harmless, obviating the need to rule on whether it was erroneously admitted; and (3) profile evidence concerning perpetrators was erroneous but harmless.

Chief Judge Effron authored a short concurring opinion expressing some reservations concerning the prior inconsistent statement and 404(b) reasoning, but agreeing that any error was harmless.

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