This will give away my anonymity to astute readers, but several months or a couple of years after the “Beltway Snipers” were caught, I tried a case in Henrico County that peripherally involved them. Basically, my client had been involved in a car wreck that caused him to endure serious and permanent head aches. The defense hired a psychiatrist to testify that my client was not injured. When their expert was interviewing my client, my client made the mistake of telling him that he enjoyed guns, and owned a .223 assault rifle, similar to the one used by the “Beltway Snipers.”
Well, the defense tried to introduce that fact into evidence, in an attempt to make my client look like a gun nut. That fact was really irrelevant to any issue in the case. I duly objected and requested that the judge not allow it to be introduced into evidence, on the grounds that it was irrelevant, and that any slight relevance was outweighed by the prejudicial effect, especially since the “Beltway Snipers” had only recently been caught. The judge overruled my motion, and allowed the evidence of my client owning the gun to come into evidence.
After we obtained a crappy verdict, I appealed to the Supreme Court and they set the verdict aside. Their decision was only about the second time in history that the Court set aside a decision like that because of “abuse of discretion” by the trial judge (I’m sure that is a slight exaggeration–but it does not occur very often, certainly not often enough). The end of the story is that we re-tried the case and got an even worse verdict. Ahhh, the joys of being a lawyer. I worked my ass off for 5 years and got not one red cent from that case!