This paper has its roots in Old Chief v. United States, a case the Supreme Court of the United States decided in 1997. I will begin by describing this case; then comment on its implications for the Supreme Court’s conception of the jury, and conclude by examining the agenda one may draw from it for empirical jury research. Old Chief arose when Johnny Lynn Old Chief was charged not only with assault with a dangerous weapon and using a firearm in the commission of a crime of violence, but also with violating a law that forbids convicted felons from possessing firearms. To prove the “felon in possession” charge, the government sought to introduce a record of Old Chief’s prior felony conviction which disclosed that he had been sentenced to five years imprisonment for an unlawful assault that had resulted in serious bodily injury. Old Chief’s defense was that he never possessed a gun, and he offered to stipulate to the fact that he was a convicted felon and so would have violated the felon in possession law if the jury found he had possessed a gun.
Lempert, Richard O. "Narrative Relevance, Imagined Juries, and a Supreme Court Inspired Agenda for Jury Research (Special Issue: The Jury's Role in Administering Justice in the United States)." St Louis University Public Law Review 21, no. 1 (2002): 15-24. (Originally published under the same title in Int'l Comment. on Evidence 1, no. 2 (1999): 1-9.)