Monday, April 6, 2009

Prosecutorial misconduct; limits of proper argument

There appears to be an emerging trend of bar prosecutions against prosecutors -- which is definitely a good thing, by the way. Here is another example of prosecutorial misconduct, as reported by Mike Frisch from Legal Profession Blog.

An Arizona hearing officer recently recommended a 30 day suspension of a deputy county attorney for misconduct in a criminal case. The hearing officer found that "it is particularly troubling that [the] conduct began in opening statement and continued through rebuttal argument." The prosecutor had "carefully considered and deliberately chose to engage in the conduct at issue here. The repeated improper argument in opening statement, even after being admonished by the court, and the improper [closing] argument of the burden of proof were carefully calculated 'bookends' to [his conduct of the...trial." The prosecutor, among other things, put improper evidence before the jury, asked improper questions about inadmissible prior crimes, misrepresented DNA and other evidence, implied that incriminating evidence had been withheld and asserted personal knowledge of the facts by saying "we know" and "we can prove" in his opening statement.

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