Case Detail
CitationPeople v. LaPorte, 762 N.Y.S.2d 55 (N.Y. App. Div. 2003)
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's remarks during summation were not a fair response to the defense counsel's summation and thus denied the defendant a fair trial. "In his summation, the prosecutor exceeded the well-defined limits of proper rhetorical comment [citation omitted]. Although it is improper for a prosecutor to impugn defense counsel's integrity [citation omitted] or denigrate the defense theory [citation omitted], the prosecutor began with an ad hominem attack on defense counsel and ridicule of the defense theory. He said, after hearing defense counsel's summation, 'I don't know if it's up or down now, left means right, day means night, and I'm pretty certain that the moon is made of green cheese.' He persisted with this theme throughout, repeatedly characterizing the defense theory as 'mumbo jumbo' and describing defense counsel's remarks as 'double talk.' He also warned the jurors several times in so many words that defense counsel was manipulating them and trying to prevent them from using their common sense. . . .Another persistent theme of the prosecutor's summation was the proper respect owed [their witness] by the jury due to his status as a veteran of the Second World War, about which [the witness] testified extensively on direct examination. . . .The prosecutor also admonished the jury not to judge [the witness] on the basis of his advanced age. Thus, although it is improper for a prosecutor to vouch for the credibility of witnesses [citation omitted] or to appeal to the sympathies and fears of the jury [citation omitted], the prosecutor used [the witness'] status as a veteran and his advanced age to try to make the jury feel guilty if it doubted [the witness] identification of his assailant. . . .In addition to 'lead[ing] the jury away from the issues by drawing irrelevant and inflammatory conclusions which have a decided tendency to prejudice the jury against the defendant' [citations omitted], the prosecutor impermissibly shifted the burden of proof from the People to the defendant by posing certain rhetorical questions to the jury. . . .The prosecutor also more than once referred to defendant, inappropriately, as a predator . . ."
Determination Year2003
Misconduct TypeTR: Impugning
TR: Inadmissible
TR: Inflammatory
TR: Mischaracterizing
TR: Vouching
C/S EffectReversal of conviction
Pros. Misc. ReportedUKN
SanctionsUKN
Sanction TypeUKN
Web linkhttp://www.leagle.com/decision/2003399306AD2d93_2308