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Peter Tillers
Worked at Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University
Attended Yale College
Lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
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People v. LaFountain, 495 Mich. 968 (March 28, 2014): In this case, defendant only disputes whether there was sufficient evidence to support the jury's finding that her operation of a methamphetamine laboratory “involve[d] ...
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Similar: Southworth v. Commonwealth, 2014 WL 1116878 (Ky., March 20. 2014):

The claim that the Commonwealth produced only a scintilla of proof is rebutted by the facts as recounted above. Admittedly, the proof against Southworth was not direct and consisted only of circumstantial proof. But direct proof of guilt is not necessary. Instead, the Commonwealth can prove all the elements of a crime by circumstantial evidence. Commonwealth v. O'Conner, 372 S.W.3d 855, 857 (Ky.2012). In this case, the circumstances pile up so that this Court cannot say that a jury would be clearly unreasonable in finding guilt.

...

Southworth also cites Kentucky cases that he claims bar generally unreasonable inferences and inferences built on other inferences. No doubt, unreasonable inferences are barred by our law. Additionally, inferences cannot be drawn from other inferences drawn ad infinitum. See, e.g., Briner v. General Motors Corp., 461 S.W.2d 99, 102 (Ky.1970). This is known as “the inference-upon-inference principle,” id., and it is condemned because “it raises the specter of speculation,” id. Indeed, mere speculation or conjecture has never been a sufficient basis for a jury verdict. See, e.g., Sutton's Adm'r v. Louisville & N.R. Co., 168 Ky. 81, 181 S.W. 938, 940 (1916).

Admittedly, this Court's predecessor stated at one time in a criminal case that “[t]he jury may not in determining the facts base an inference upon an inference.” Pengleton v. Commonwealth, 294 Ky. 484, 172 S.W.2d 52, 53 (1943); see also id. (“When an inference is based on a fact, that fact must be clearly established and if the existence of such a fact depends upon a prior inference no subsequent inferences can legitimately be based upon it.”). But this “rule” cannot bar all inferences based on other inferences, despite being stated in absolute terms. If that were the case, then the exercise of logic, which frequently employs inference-derived inferences, would not be allowed to the jury. But logic, like common sense, “must not be a stranger in the house of the law.” Cantrell v. Kentucky Unemployment Ins. Commission, 450 S.W.2d 235, 237 (Ky.1970). Indeed, the law requires logical, reasonable inferences and decisions, rather than those driven by passion and emotion.
Thus, the so-called rule, stated in absolute terms, has been roundly criticized, as exemplified by the following:

There is no such orthodox rule; nor can there be. If there were, hardly a single trial could be adequately prosecuted. For example, on a charge of murder that the defendant's gun is found discharged. From this we infer that he discharged it, and from this we infer that it was his bullet that struck and killed the deceased. Or the defendant is shown to have been sharpening a knife. From this we argue that he had a design to use it upon the deceased, and from this we argue that the fatal stab was the result of this design. In these and innumerable daily instances we built inference upon inference, and yet no court (until very modern times) ever thought of forbidding it. All departments of reasoning, all scientific work, every day's life and every day's trials proceed upon such data. The judicial utterances that sanction the fallacious and impracticable limitation, originally put forward without authority, must be taken as valid only for the particular evidentiary facts therein ruled upon.

John Henry Wigmore & Peter Tillers, Evidence in Trials at Common Law § 41, at 1111 (rev. ed.1983). And in light of the criticism, “the modern trend is to abandon rules limiting the use of circumstantial evidence, including an inference upon an inference.” Eyal Zamir et al., Seeing is Believing: The Anti–Inference Bias, 89 Ind. L.J. 195, 199 (Winter 2014); see also id. at 200 (“the rule restricting an inference upon an inference has largely been abandoned”).

And Kentucky has abandoned the absolute “rule,” having replaced it with the inference-upon-inference “principle.” See Briner, 461 S.W.2d at 102. As articulated in that case, the principle is intended to condemn inferences that build upon inferences in an unreasonable manner. For example, in Klingenfus v. Dunaway, 402 S.W.2d 844 (Ky.1966), in which liability was premised on an alleged defect in a tractor, the Court stated:

What the appellee asks is that an inference be drawn that new bearings were ordered for this tractor; that another inference be drawn, upon the first one, that the tractor without the new bearings was unsafe; and that a third inference then be drawn that the accident happened by reason of the previously inferred defective condition of the tractor. Such a pyramiding of inferences is not allowable.
Id. at 846.

But some inferences upon inferences are necessarily allowed. For example, in a criminal case, consciousness of guilt can be inferred from things like assumption of a false name after a crime, and, in turn, the “fact of guilt” can be inferred from the defendant's consciousness of guilt. See Woodard v. Commonwealth, 147 S.W.3d 63, 67 (Ky.2004); see also Wigmore & Tillers, supra, § 41, at 1111 (discussing examples of legitimate inferences upon inferences). Such a chain of reasoning would violate an absolute no-inferences-upon-inferences rule. But as long as an inference is grounded in common sense and experience, in reason and logic, and in the evidence at trial, it should be allowed and, indeed, embraced.
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Obituary in Harvard Today, http://today.law.harvard.edu/john-h-mansfield-56-1928-2014/:

John Howard Mansfield, the John H. Watson, Jr. Professor of Law, Emeritus, and scholar of the First Amendment, died on April 10, 2014, at the age of 85.
He joined the faculty of Harvard Law School in 1958 and was known for his courses and scholarship in constitutional law, evidence, and issues of church and state.

Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow said: “John devoted his professional life to Harvard Law School. He was a good friend and a mentor to many of us, as well as to so many students. He will be greatly missed.”

Mansfield was a demanding yet warm teacher who embodied the “education by expectation” that he so admired in his hero, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter LL.B. 1906, whom he honored in a 1965 Harvard Law Review tribute.

“As generations of Harvard students can testify, John Mansfield relentlessly adhered to and expected the highest standards of excellence in his classrooms, in and out of season,” said HLS Professor Mary Ann Glendon. “As a scholar, he relentlessly searched for truth, unafraid of where his quest would lead him. As a colleague, he was kind and generous. It was a privilege to have known him.”

In a tribute to Mansfield published in the Fall 2008 issue of the Harvard Law Bulletin, James Sonne ’97 wrote  that his former professor was “among the most engaging, and engaged, men I’ve ever known.” Sonne continued: “All his work shows the dexterity of mind and clarity of thought of a true teacher-scholar.”

Mansfield’s research interests were in the areas of comparative and constitutional law, as well as the law of evidence. In his scholarship, he wrote landmark works on the jury system, scientific evidence, law and religion, legal history, and the law of India.

He was author of the book “Evidence: Cases and Materials, with 2005 Supplement” and several shorter works and articles. His article “The Religion Clauses of the First Amendment and Foreign Relations,” published in 1986 in the DePaul Law Review, has been cited as the first scholarly work to consider the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause abroad, five years before a court had ever considered the issue and 15 years before 9/11.

After graduating from Harvard College and HLS, Mansfield served as clerk for Justice Roger Traynor of the Supreme Court of California and then for Justice Frankfurter on the Supreme Court.

In July 2008, Mansfield retired from Harvard Law School. In the Bulletin tribute written for that occasion, Sonne wrote: “He is one of the last of a great generation, having shared the joys and struggles that marked the times with dearly departed friends and colleagues such as Mark Howe, Phillip Areeda and David Westfall. In many ways, he is a man of ‘the old school’ who believes, as Professor David Rosenberg once observed, that ‘one good question is better than 10 good answers.’ At the same time, his work in comparative and interdisciplinary areas exemplifies the cutting edge of legal thought.”
John H. Mansfield, obituary, Boston Globe (April 13, 2014): MANSFIELD, John Howard Of Brookline, MA, died on April 10, 2014 at the age of 85. He was the John Watson Professor of Law (Emeritus) at Harvard Law School. Bel...
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Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a...
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… and Sheldon Silver, a paragon of ethics in government, was awarded an honorary degree by my former employer, Yeshiva University…

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/17/nyregion/with-anticorruption-panel-gone-a-move-to-monitor-new-york-lawmakers-income-is-thwarted.html?hp
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s much-questioned decision to disband the Moreland Commission has scuttled an inquiry into the income of legislators like Sheldon Silver who also have other jobs.
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Peter Tillers

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PASSING OF JOHN H. MANSFIELD
John H. Mansfield, obituary , Boston Globe (April 13, 2014): MANSFIELD, John Howard Of Brookline, MA, died on April 10, 2014 at the age of 85. He was the John Watson Professor of Law (Emeritus) at Harvard Law School. Beloved husband of Maria Luisa Fernandez...
John H. Mansfield, obituary, Boston Globe (April 13, 2014): MANSFIELD, John Howard Of Brookline, MA, died on April 10, 2014 at the age of 85. He was the John Watson Professor of Law (Emeritus) at Harvard Law School. Bel...
1
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Peter Tillers

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Michigan - Sufficiency of Evidence; Inference on Inference
People v. LaFountain, 495 Mich. 968 (March 28, 2014): In this case, defendant only disputes whether there was sufficient evidence to support the jury's finding that her operation of a methamphetamine laboratory “involve[d] the possession, placement, or use ...
People v. LaFountain, 495 Mich. 968 (March 28, 2014): In this case, defendant only disputes whether there was sufficient evidence to support the jury's finding that her operation of a methamphetamine laboratory “involve[d] ...
1
Peter Tillers's profile photo
 
Similar: Southworth v. Commonwealth, 2014 WL 1116878 (Ky., March 20. 2014):

The claim that the Commonwealth produced only a scintilla of proof is rebutted by the facts as recounted above. Admittedly, the proof against Southworth was not direct and consisted only of circumstantial proof. But direct proof of guilt is not necessary. Instead, the Commonwealth can prove all the elements of a crime by circumstantial evidence. Commonwealth v. O'Conner, 372 S.W.3d 855, 857 (Ky.2012). In this case, the circumstances pile up so that this Court cannot say that a jury would be clearly unreasonable in finding guilt.

...

Southworth also cites Kentucky cases that he claims bar generally unreasonable inferences and inferences built on other inferences. No doubt, unreasonable inferences are barred by our law. Additionally, inferences cannot be drawn from other inferences drawn ad infinitum. See, e.g., Briner v. General Motors Corp., 461 S.W.2d 99, 102 (Ky.1970). This is known as “the inference-upon-inference principle,” id., and it is condemned because “it raises the specter of speculation,” id. Indeed, mere speculation or conjecture has never been a sufficient basis for a jury verdict. See, e.g., Sutton's Adm'r v. Louisville & N.R. Co., 168 Ky. 81, 181 S.W. 938, 940 (1916).

Admittedly, this Court's predecessor stated at one time in a criminal case that “[t]he jury may not in determining the facts base an inference upon an inference.” Pengleton v. Commonwealth, 294 Ky. 484, 172 S.W.2d 52, 53 (1943); see also id. (“When an inference is based on a fact, that fact must be clearly established and if the existence of such a fact depends upon a prior inference no subsequent inferences can legitimately be based upon it.”). But this “rule” cannot bar all inferences based on other inferences, despite being stated in absolute terms. If that were the case, then the exercise of logic, which frequently employs inference-derived inferences, would not be allowed to the jury. But logic, like common sense, “must not be a stranger in the house of the law.” Cantrell v. Kentucky Unemployment Ins. Commission, 450 S.W.2d 235, 237 (Ky.1970). Indeed, the law requires logical, reasonable inferences and decisions, rather than those driven by passion and emotion.
Thus, the so-called rule, stated in absolute terms, has been roundly criticized, as exemplified by the following:

There is no such orthodox rule; nor can there be. If there were, hardly a single trial could be adequately prosecuted. For example, on a charge of murder that the defendant's gun is found discharged. From this we infer that he discharged it, and from this we infer that it was his bullet that struck and killed the deceased. Or the defendant is shown to have been sharpening a knife. From this we argue that he had a design to use it upon the deceased, and from this we argue that the fatal stab was the result of this design. In these and innumerable daily instances we built inference upon inference, and yet no court (until very modern times) ever thought of forbidding it. All departments of reasoning, all scientific work, every day's life and every day's trials proceed upon such data. The judicial utterances that sanction the fallacious and impracticable limitation, originally put forward without authority, must be taken as valid only for the particular evidentiary facts therein ruled upon.

John Henry Wigmore & Peter Tillers, Evidence in Trials at Common Law § 41, at 1111 (rev. ed.1983). And in light of the criticism, “the modern trend is to abandon rules limiting the use of circumstantial evidence, including an inference upon an inference.” Eyal Zamir et al., Seeing is Believing: The Anti–Inference Bias, 89 Ind. L.J. 195, 199 (Winter 2014); see also id. at 200 (“the rule restricting an inference upon an inference has largely been abandoned”).

And Kentucky has abandoned the absolute “rule,” having replaced it with the inference-upon-inference “principle.” See Briner, 461 S.W.2d at 102. As articulated in that case, the principle is intended to condemn inferences that build upon inferences in an unreasonable manner. For example, in Klingenfus v. Dunaway, 402 S.W.2d 844 (Ky.1966), in which liability was premised on an alleged defect in a tractor, the Court stated:

What the appellee asks is that an inference be drawn that new bearings were ordered for this tractor; that another inference be drawn, upon the first one, that the tractor without the new bearings was unsafe; and that a third inference then be drawn that the accident happened by reason of the previously inferred defective condition of the tractor. Such a pyramiding of inferences is not allowable.
Id. at 846.

But some inferences upon inferences are necessarily allowed. For example, in a criminal case, consciousness of guilt can be inferred from things like assumption of a false name after a crime, and, in turn, the “fact of guilt” can be inferred from the defendant's consciousness of guilt. See Woodard v. Commonwealth, 147 S.W.3d 63, 67 (Ky.2004); see also Wigmore & Tillers, supra, § 41, at 1111 (discussing examples of legitimate inferences upon inferences). Such a chain of reasoning would violate an absolute no-inferences-upon-inferences rule. But as long as an inference is grounded in common sense and experience, in reason and logic, and in the evidence at trial, it should be allowed and, indeed, embraced
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Peter Tillers
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Discussion  - 
John Howard Mansfield, the John H. Watson, Jr. Professor of Law, Emeritus, and scholar of the First Amendment, died on April 10, 2014, at the age of 8
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Wow this is great, makes me want to dig up my old trombone Pharrell Williams - Happy: Trombone Loop
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Peter Tillers

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My affection and respect for John Mansfield ran deep. And with good reason.

I first encountered John in my first year of law school when John took over part of a torts course for an ill faculty member. I got to know John personally while I was working for James Chadbourn as a research assistant. I became accustomed to dropping by John's office to chat. Not once did John say he was too busy to talk. We often talked at length – about what I know not.

In the years following my graduation from Harvard Law school I wandered around the country but I managed to keep in touch with John now and then. When I moved back East, I saw him more frequently. Not once did he say he was too busy to see me. John was unfailingly generous with his time.

John, of course, was brilliant as well as generous. He needled me mercilessly more than once for some ridiculous thought I had. But I never minded that he did that – because I knew he was a good soul. And he was always good company.

I will miss John immensely.
John H. Mansfield, obituary, Boston Globe (April 13, 2014): MANSFIELD, John Howard Of Brookline, MA, died on April 10, 2014 at the age of 85. He was the John Watson Professor of Law (Emeritus) at Harvard Law School. Bel...
1
Add a comment...
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In his circles
107 people
Have him in circles
128 people
Danielle Muscatello's profile photo
Burghita Oberholzer's profile photo
Jennifer Mnookin's profile photo
Charles Prizzi's profile photo
Daivey Kibue's profile photo
Joseph Laronge's profile photo
Pokey Chiu's profile photo
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  • Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University
    Professor of Law, 1986 - 2014
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Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Previously
Jersey City, New Jersey - Cambridge, Massachusetts
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legal writer; dabbler in philosophy & epistemology; amateur photographer
Introduction
Student of the law of evidence, evidence, inference, and investigation. Sometimes writes books. Sometimes writes articles. Sometimes tinkers with computer programs to support the marshaling of evidence for legal activities such as trials and pretrial discovery and investigation. And sometimes takes photographs.
Education
  • Yale College
    A.B.; History, the Arts & Letters, 1961 - 1966
  • Harvard Law School
    J.D., 1966 - 1969
  • Harvard Law School
    LL.M., 1971 - 1972
  • Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich
    History & Philosophy, 1963 - 1964
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Male
Birthday
July 4