Case Detail
CitationPeople v. Gorghan, 787 N.Y.S.2d 178 (N.Y. App. Div. 2004)
CrimeSex crimes
StateNY
Pros. First NameUKN
Pros. Last NameUKN
FederalNo
Trial Year2001
BodyAppeals court
OpinionThe New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, held that: (1) the prosecutor's act of telling the jury during opening statements of a certain testimony a witness would give in the prosecution for rape, sodomy, and sexual abuse amounted to misconduct; (2) the prosecutor engaged in misconduct by repeatedly eliciting, during presentation of proof, evidence aimed at bolstering the victim's testimony as to uncharged acts, despite the trial court's admonition against such behavior; and (3) the pervasive pattern by the prosecutor of pushing beyond accepted boundaries on key issues and in a fashion prejudicial to fair trial warranted reversal of convictions. "[E]rrors permeated the People's opening statement, presentation of proof and continued into summation. For example, when addressing the force element of the sex crimes in her opening statement, the prosecutor concluded that aspect of her statement, in which she had repeatedly referred to force, with the comment, '[h]e placed his hands on her ... forcibly, and he possessed a weapon, a .357 Magnum caliber Dan Wesson arms revolver unlicensed on that day' (emphasis added). There was, however, never any allegation that defendant used a gun when committing the charged sex crimes nor was there any contention defendant even possessed the gun . . . This was an improper attempt to create an inference—devoid of factual support—that the gun was relevant to the issue of force. Moreover, prior to the opening statement, the prosecutor removed the victim's mother from her list of potential witnesses, but then told the jury of certain testimony the mother would give. There was no good faith basis for believing the mother would testify as represented to the jury. In addition, the jury was improperly told that defendant originally had also been charged with incest and details were provided of other certain bad acts . . . which implied stalking and eavesdropping by defendant. Considerably more time was spent in the opening statement discussing and detailing uncharged crimes and bad acts than the crimes for which defendant was on trial. . . .During the presentation of proof, and despite County Court's admonition that no evidence aimed at bolstering the victim's testimony as to uncharged acts would be permitted, the People repeatedly elicited such evidence. . . .Restrictions placed by County Court on testimony about defendant's vasectomy scar and skin tags on his buttocks were disregarded. The victim's testimony regarding uncharged acts of defendant was significantly longer than the testimony about the charged crimes."
Determination Year2004
Misconduct TypeTR: Inadmissible
TR: Inflammatory
TR: Mischaracterizing
C/S EffectReversal of conviction
Pros. Misc. ReportedUKN
SanctionsUKN
Sanction TypeUKN
Web linkhttp://www.leagle.com/decision/200492113AD3d908_1211.xml/PEOPLE%20v.%20GORGHAN