Copyright (c) 2005 Drake University
Drake Law Review
CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM REFORM SYMPOSIUM: ARTICLE: EVALUATING BRADY ERROR USING NARRATIVE THEORY: A PROPOSAL FOR REFORM
53 Drake L. Rev. 599
John B. Mitchell*
Life is filled with the unexpected. Researchers disappointed with a promising pharmaceutical for hypertension and angina began to notice that users were consistently reporting a surprising side effect. Further investigation lead to Viagra. 1 Children enjoying the wonders of Play-Doh can thank what was initially an attempt to create wallpaper cleaner. 2 Those of us who could not function in the world without our assortment of Post-It notes owe it all to a group of scientists who were trying to make an effective adhesive. 3 The point is that some of the most important results of our labors can be unintended. Like science, law, too, seems to possess the capacity for serendipity.
When the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in Old Chief v. United States, 4 the Court examined Federal Rule of Evidence 403 5 in light of a defense offer to stipulate to aspects of the proffered prosecution evidence, purportedly to lessen their prejudicial impact. 6 While this was clearly an issue of interest to litigators and trial judges, the decision hardly portended anything earth-shattering. Where the rhetoric of that decision may lead, however, could well eclipse Post-It notes in significance (at least within the criminal court system). For at the core of the opinion rests the validation of a theory born from such disparate fields as Law and Literature, 7 Sociology, 8 and Narrative Theory. 9
While this recognition of narrative theory could have sweeping implications for how appellate courts assess trial errors, my objectives ...
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