Case Detail
CitationPeople v. Ostrow, 819 N.Y.S.2d 378 (N.Y. App. Term 2006)
CrimeNon-violent, other
StateNY
Pros. First NameUKN
Pros. Last NameUKN
FederalNo
Trial Year2003
BodyAppeals court
OpinionThe New York Supreme Court, Appellate Term, held that the cumulative effect of the prosecutor's acts during summation of blatantly vouching for the credibility of the complaining witness, accusing the defendant of tailoring his testimony, disparaging the defendant for exercising his constitutional right to be present in the courtroom and to confront his accuser, and repeatedly characterizing the defendant's testimony as “absurd” served to deprive the defendant of his right to a fair trial. "[T]he prosecutor's summation was rife with improper remarks which were neither responsive to the defense summation [citations omitted]. . . . The prosecutor began his summation by blatantly vouching for the credibility of his complaining witness [citations omitted]. He persistently referred to the fact that the complainant had told the same story to various school personnel, several law enforcement authorities, and ultimately to the jury, and suggested that she was a credible witness because her testimony was consistent. The prosecutor urged the jury to 'think about the consistency of her statements'—some of which were not even in evidence—and then impermissibly shifted the burden to the defense by stating that 'none of these facts were ever disputed by [defense counsel]'. . . .The prosecutor compounded these errors by accusing defendant of 'tailor[ing] [his testimony] after he was able to sit here and hear everyone testify and at the end of the day having sat up there and what he said was patently absurd.' Such accusations are plainly improper and serve no purpose other than to inflame the jury [citations omitted]. Moreover, the prosecutor directly disparaged defendant for exercising his constitutional right to be present in the courtroom and confront his accuser. Finally, the prosecutor's repeated characterization of defendant's testimony as absurd 'exceeded the bounds of proper rhetorical comment' [citation omitted], and was nothing more than an attempt to denigrate the defense. . . .On this record, we conclude that the cumulative effect of the prosecutor's persistent and improper remarks in summation served to deprive defendant of his right to a fair trial [citations omitted]."
Determination Year2006
Misconduct TypeTR: Impugning
TR: Mischaracterizing
TR: Misstating
TR: Vouching
C/S EffectReversal of conviction
Pros. Misc. ReportedUKN
SanctionsUKN
Sanction TypeUKN
Web linkhttp://leagle.com/decision/20068112Misc3d69_162.xml/PEOPLE%20v.%20OSTROW