Case Detail
CitationPeople v. McArthur, 956 N.Y.S.2d 71 (N.Y. App. Div. 2012)
Pros. First NameThomas
Pros. Last NameSpota
Trial Year2009
BodyAppeals court
OpinionThe New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division held that the prosecutor's comments in summation to the jury constituted an improper reference to the defendant's post-arrest silence and demeanor, and defense counsel's cumulative errors resulted in ineffective assistance. "[T]the prosecutor stated in summation, among other things, that at the time of the defendant's arrest, he looked '[d]isappointed,' which is 'not how an innocent person is going to react being told he's being charged with murder,' commented on the defendant's failure at that time to question the charges, stated that the defendant looked 'distracted' during a car ride to the police station, which is 'the reaction of a guilty man who knows he's been caught,' and stated that when questioned in the police station, the defendant 'smile[d].' Contrary to the People's contention, 'the defendant's mere denial of his involvement in the shooting upon arrest was not tantamount to a waiver of his right to remain silent so as to render the Conyers proscription inapplicable' [citation omitted]. 'Indeed, as the Court of Appeals has acknowledged, ‘the State is denied the right to draw adverse inferences from the fact that a defendant has maintained an effective silence, even if something less than total’ [citations omitted]. Further, by making certain ambiguous remarks when questioned at the police station, the defendant did not 'proceed[ ] to narrate the essential facts of his involvement in the crime' [citations omitted]. Thus, it was inappropriate for the prosecutor to comment on the defendant's silence and demeanor as evidence of a consciousness of guilt [citations omitted]. Since the evidence in this single eyewitness identification case was not overwhelming [citation omitted], the errors were not harmless [citations omitted]."
Determination Year2012
Misconduct TypeTR: Inadmissible
TR: Inflammatory
C/S EffectReversal of conviction
Pros. Misc. ReportedUKN
Sanction TypeUKN
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