Case Detail
CitationPeople v. Morgan, 974 N.Y.S.2d 687 (N.Y. App. Div. 2013)
CrimeViolent, other
StateNY
Pros. First NameUKN
Pros. Last NameUKN
FederalNo
Trial YearUKN
BodyAppeals court
OpinionThe New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, held that the prosecutor engaged in misconduct sufficient to warrant reversal, this coming after the Court had already granted a retrial due to prosecutor misconduct: "Despite our prior admonition on defendant's first appeal, the prosecutor on retrial repeated some of the improper comments from the first summation and made additional comments that we conclude are improper. The prosecutor improperly denigrated the defense and defense counsel, repeatedly characterizing the defense as 'noise,' 'nonsense' and a 'distraction[ ],' and arguing that defense counsel was fabricating facts and attempting to mislead the jury [citations omitted]. In one of the more troubling passages in her summation, the prosecutor stated, 'You are here for the People of the State of New York versus [defendant] ... It is not about who isn't sitting at the defense table, it is about who is. Are you buying it? Because that's what they're selling. Theories disguised as arguments and posturing as evidence. And I'm not suggesting the defendant has the burden of proving anything because the burden rests with the People, but by the same token, it doesn't give counsel license to make stuff up and pretend that it's evidence. They all have something in common. These theories, they're noise, they're nonsense. They want you to be distracted. Do not be distracted.' In addition, the prosecutor misstated the evidence and the law [citations omitted], made an inappropriate 'guilt by association' argument [citation omitted], and improperly characterized the case as “about finding the truth and it is as simple as that” [citations omitted]. Perhaps the prosecutor's most egregious misconduct occurred when she made herself an unsworn witness and injected the integrity of the District Attorney's office into the case [citations omitted]. With respect to a chief prosecution witness, who did not testify at the first trial and who turned herself in on a warrant the day prior to her testimony, the prosecutor stated: 'When she arrived at our offices, she was escorted over to Buffalo City Court because she had a warrant, because that's what you have to do, and she was released on her own recognizance by the judge. And let me be very clear here when we talk about promises to witnesses or benefits that they received. Let me be very clear. Neither myself, nor [the other prosecuting attorney], nor anyone from our office, ever promised her anything in exchange for her testimony.' (emphasis added). . . .In light of the foregoing, we conclude that reversal is warranted based on the pervasive and at times egregious misconduct on summation, particularly in light of our previous admonition to the People in this matter [citations omitted]. In short, as we said more than 15 years ago, '[i]t would seem, by now, unnecessary to emphasize again that the duty of the prosecutor is to honor established legal principles, not to secure a conviction by any and all means' [citation omitted]."
Determination Year2013
Misconduct TypePT: Brady
TR: Impugning
TR: Inadmissible
TR: Inflammatory
TR: Misstating
TR: Vouching
C/S EffectReversal of conviction
Pros. Misc. ReportedUKN
SanctionsUKN
Sanction TypeUKN
Web linkhttp://caselaw.findlaw.com/ny-supreme-court-appellate-division/1648988.html