Emory Law Journal

Volume 68Issue 3

Legitimizing Character Evidence

Justin Sevier | 68 Emory L.J. 441 (2019)

Modern consensus among legal commentators is that character evidence—when used to show that an individual behaved in accordance with her predisposition to commit some act—is an illegitimate form of fact-finding proof. This consensus is codified in the Federal Rules of Evidence, which forbids the use of most “propensity evidence” at trial. Defenders of the ban suggest, without empirical proof, that jurors would overvalue the probative worth of propensity evidence and that the public would balk at such evidence as a matter of legal procedure. Using insights from social psychology, this Article reports the results of three original experiments, which examine the conditions under which the public might legitimize verdicts that rely on propensity evidence. These experiments, which surveyed over 1,200 participants, suggest that propensity evidence is a legitimate form of trial proof and that jurors are more competent to evaluate such evidence than policymakers believe.

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National Personal Jurisdiction

Jonathan Remy Nash | 68 Emory L.J. 509 (2019)

Personal jurisdiction has always constrained plaintiffs’ access to courts, and recent Supreme Court decisions impose even more severe limits. These limitations are magnified by the standard understanding that the relevant forum for purposes of the personal jurisdiction calculus is the state. This Article explores the possibility of expanding the use of national personal jurisdiction. First, it argues that there is no Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause barrier to national personal jurisdiction. Second, it argues that Congress has the power to introduce national personal jurisdiction as to all claims brought in the federal courts, but that Congress lacks authority to introduce national personal jurisdiction as to any claims brought in the state courts. However, Congress could open the federal courthouse doors wider to claims where national personal jurisdiction is deemed appropriate. Third, this Article considers what steps Congress can use to implement national personal jurisdiction.

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