Tuesday, March 6, 2012

New trial ordered because of improper courtroom conduct

Over the years, I have commented on a number of cases where courts have reversed convictions due to improper comments by prosecutors, but I don't think I have posted a case where the court orders a new trial in a civil case...  until now. 

In this case, Maraviglia v. Lokshina (available here), the court concluded, among other things, that "[a] new trial is warranted in light of the inappropriate cross-examination of the plaintiffs' witnesses, as well as the inflammatory and improper summation comments of counsel for the defendants."  The court described some of the conduct as follows:
The defendants' counsel repeatedly denigrated the medical background of the injured plaintiff's treating physician. Counsel also made inflammatory remarks, including commenting during summation that the plaintiff's treating physician and the plaintiff were "working the system."  Moreover, counsel remarked that the injured plaintiff's treating physician testified "at an enormous amount of Workers [Compensation] proceedings" and was the "go-to" doctor in Suffolk County for patients who wished to stop working. By contrast, counsel vouched for the credibility of the defendants' expert witness by thanking "God there are people like [him] . . .

Additionally, during cross-examination of the plaintiffs' expert anesthesiologist, counsel for the defendants twice referred to the medical center where this doctor performed certain procedures as a "parking lot," even though the court had sustained the plaintiffs' objection to the first use of this reference. . . ."

Thanks to the Legal Profession blog for the update.

1 comment:

  1. For the Australian take on this, see the decisions of the Victorian Court of Appeal collected on my friend Paul Duggan's blog post (despite the fact it focuses on the different question of costs orders against counsel personally): http://pauldugganbarrister.com/2012/03/01/ethics-and-the-uncertain-world-of-costs-orders-against-lawyers-personally.