Case Detail
CitationPeople v. Proper, 576 N.Y.S.2d 630 (N.Y. App. Div. 1991)
CrimeSex crimes
StateNY
Pros. First NameUKN
Pros. Last NameUKN
FederalNo
Trial Year1990
BodyAppeals court
OpinionThe New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, held that: (1) the prosecutor's comments during summation as to the credibility of a laboratory technician were clearly improper, constituted expression of personal opinion, and served to bolster scientific evidence that contradicted testimony of the defense; and (2) the prosecutor improperly referred in summation to the defendant's failure to call two witnesses who were under his control and were expected to testify favorably to defense. "It is fundamental that a prosecutor may not vouch for the credibility of his witnesses [citations omitted]. Although we agree with the People that the prosecutor's comments about the complainant's credibility were fair in light of defendant's attacks on her veracity [citation omitted], defendant never attacked the veracity of the technician. Thus, the prosecutor's comments as to his credibility were clearly improper, constituted an expression of personal opinion [citations omitted] and served to bolster scientific evidence that contradicted the testimony of the defense. Moreover, the prosecutor improperly referred in summation to defendant's failure to call two witnesses who were under his control and were expected to testify favorably to the defense. The prosecutor did not simply state that the jury could assume that the uncalled witnesses' testimony would not have supported the defense [citation omitted], but rather suggested that defendant bore a burden of proof on that issue [citations omitted]. We also note that the People requested and were denied a missing witness charge, thereby heightening the prejudice because defendant was deprived of the opportunity to explain why the witnesses were not called [citation omitted]. While these errors were not preserved for our review as a matter of law [citation omitted], given the magnitude of the errors and the fact that defendant's credibility was central to his defense, we cannot conclude that this substantial blow to his credibility was harmless [citations omitted]. Accordingly, reversal is required in the interest of justice."
Determination Year1991
Misconduct TypeTR: Impugning
TR: Inadmissible
TR: Mischaracterizing
TR: Vouching
C/S EffectReversal of conviction
Pros. Misc. ReportedUKN
SanctionsUKN
Sanction TypeUKN
Web linkN/A