Case Detail
CitationPeople v. Spann, 918 N.Y.S.2d 588 (N.Y. App. Div. 2011)
CrimeNon-violent, other
Pros. First NameUKN
Pros. Last NameUKN
Trial Year2008
BodyAppeals court
OpinionThe New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, held that the cumulative effect of the prosecutor's improper comments during summation deprived defendant of fair trial. At trial, the arresting officer testified that he observed the defendant 'sweating very profusely' and his heart beating rapidly during the traffic stop. The defendant presented medical evidence to establish that his perspiration and rapid heart rate were the result of hypertension. During summation, the prosecutor improperly commented on the defendant's medical evidence by repeatedly referring to it as a 'distraction,' a 'smokescreen,' and 'smoke and mirrors,' while at the same time arguing in support of the People's case that the defendant's physical condition was evidence of consciousness of guilt [citations omitted]. The prosecutor also impermissibly shifted the burden of proof to the defendant by informing the jurors that if they did not find the defendant's testimony 'reasonable,' they could not 'form the basis of reasonable doubt' [citations omitted]. Finally, the evidence presented at trial established that the arresting officer recovered the handgun from beneath the 'front seat' of the car. As there was no evidence to establish that the handgun was found beneath the front passenger seat as opposed to the front driver's seat, the prosecutor misstated the evidence during summation when he told the jury on 14 occasions that the handgun had been found beneath the front passenger seat where the defendant was sitting [citations omitted]. . . .The cumulative effect of these improper comments deprived the defendant of a fair trial. . ."
Determination Year2011
Misconduct TypeTR: Mischaracterizing
TR: Misstating
C/S EffectReversal of conviction
Pros. Misc. ReportedUKN
Sanction TypeUKN
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