Case Detail
CitationPeople v. Robinson, 689 N.Y.S.2d 163 (N.Y. App. Div. 1999)
CrimeViolent, other
StateNY
Pros. First NameUKN
Pros. Last NameUKN
FederalNo
Trial Year1997
BodyAppeals court
OpinionThe New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, held that the prosecutor's summation denied the defendant of his right to a fair trial. "The record reveals that the prosecutor began his closing argument by improperly vouching for the complainant's truthfulness, and informing the jury that they would 'walk this guy [the defendant] right out the door' if they believed that the complainant was 'full of crap' [citations omitted]. The prosecutor then attempted to appeal to the 'sympathies and fears of the jury' [citations omitted], by describing the elderly, disabled complainant as someone who would be a 'classic victim anywhere in this city' . . . .The prosecutor also persistently disparaged the defense case, remarking that the defense was following a 'script' that was 'like right out of Perry Mason'. Continuing with this theme, the prosecutor accused the defense of manufacturing certain evidence, and claimed that the defense witness who confessed to the robbery had 'perjur[ed] himself', and was 'more full of crap than a Christmas turkey'. Defense counsel's objections to these denigrating comments were overruled. While the court did subsequently sustain objections to additional comments about the veracity of the defense witness and his motivation for confessing to the crime, the prosecutor, undeterred, continued to improperly convey his opinion that the witness was a liar who had been coerced into following a script [citations omitted]. Furthermore, although a defendant has a constitutional right to a public trial, the prosecutor told the jury that he was 'ticked off' because members of the defendant's family were present in the courtroom when the defense witness testified, and suggested that they were present as part of the script, and because they knew something about the witness that they were holding over his head. The prosecutor then concluded his summation by urging the jurors to honor their oaths, and by remarking that '[t]he only way this defendant walks out of the courtroom is if you let him'."
Determination Year1999
Misconduct TypeTR: Impugning
TR: Inadmissible
TR: Inflammatory
TR: Vouching
C/S EffectReversal of conviction
Pros. Misc. ReportedUKN
SanctionsUKN
Sanction TypeUKN
Web linkhttp://www.leagle.com/decision/1999768260AD2d508_1333.xml/PEOPLE%20v.%20ROBINSON