Case Detail
CitationPeople v. Ortiz, 822 N.Y.S.2d 518 (N.Y. App. Div. 2006)
Pros. First NameRobert
Pros. Last NameMorgenthau
Trial Year2002
BodyAppeals court
OpinionThe New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, held that the cumulative effect of the prosecutor's improper conduct deprived the defendant of a fair trial. "On cross-examination, the prosecutor repeatedly characterized defendant as a liar and his defense as a lie, and forced defendant to accuse prosecution witnesses of lying, which defendant had refrained from doing on direct. He also repeatedly asked defendant why two of the prosecution witnesses—the detective and the Family Court judge—would lie, and continued to do so after the court instructed him to stop. The cumulative effect of this improper conduct was prejudicial to defendant and constituted grounds for reversal . . . During summation, the prosecutor repeatedly vouched for the credibility of these same two key witnesses with approving references to their status as law enforcement officials. This was particularly evident in his numerous references to 'the Judge.' At one point, the prosecutor expressly compared these witnesses' credibility with that of defendant purely on the basis of their respective careers: the long-time police officer and the long-time prosecutor, who now sits as a Family Court judge and works with families and children, versus the long-time drug dealer. This, too, constituted an impermissible, prejudicial pattern of conduct [citations omitted], and was exacerbated by the trial court's failure to instruct the jury as to the credibility of the testimony of a judge, after having provided instruction as to credibility in general and as to the credibility of a police officer. While it is true that the defense requested no such instruction and did not object to the charge, the omission raises the possibility that the jury believed it had to accept a judge's version of her interview with defendant which, as previously noted, differed from that of the police detective and that of defendant."
Determination Year2006
Misconduct TypeTR: Impugning
TR: Inadmissible
TR: Vouching
C/S EffectNew trial
Pros. Misc. ReportedUKN
Sanction TypeUKN
Web link