Case Detail
CitationPeople v. LaDolce, 607 N.Y.S.2d 523 (N.Y. App. Div. 1994)
Pros. First NameUKN
Pros. Last NameUKN
Trial Year1990
BodyAppeals court
OpinionThe New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, held that: (1) the prosecutor's comments and the trial court's instructions on the defendant's failure to testify were constitutional error; (2) the prosecutor's comments on the indictment were improper; (3) the trial court erred in instructions on nature and function of the grand jury; and (4) the prosecutor's failure to disclose accurately nature of its agreement with its witness deprived the defendant of a fair trial. "Defendant did not testify at trial. Her version of [the victim's] death reached the jury only through her statements to the police. The prosecutor, in his summation, invited the jury to take defendant's statements into the deliberation room and to read her version of the events with a critical eye, 'slowly pick apart, dissect it.' He then directed the jurors to 'be the ones to conduct the cross-examination that we never got a chance to hear '. . . . The obvious implication of the prosecutor's comments was that defendant failed to testify and thereby deprived the jury of an opportunity to test her version of the story. Contrary to the People's arguments, those remarks were highly improper and extremely prejudicial. A prosecutor's summation comments concerning a defendant's failure to testify is error of constitutional dimension. . . ."There was no reason for the trial court to go beyond the standard instruction that an indictment is not evidence of guilt [citation omitted] or to reinforce the prosecutor's improper and 'obvious suggestion that 23 people ‘upstairs' had already made a preliminary evaluation of defendant's guilt'. . . .In addition, we conclude that the prosecutor, during his summation, improperly characterized the defense witnesses as 'throw away witnesses' [citations omitted], vouched for the credibility of his own witnesses [citations omitted], and misstated the People's burden of proof."
Determination Year1994
Misconduct TypeTR: Impugning
TR: Inadmissible
TR: Misstating
TR: Vouching
C/S EffectReversal of conviction
Pros. Misc. ReportedUKN
Sanction TypeUKN
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