Case Detail
CitationPeople v. Handwerker, 816 N.Y.S.2d 824 (N.Y. App. Term 2006)
CrimeNon-violent, other
Pros. First NameThomas
Pros. Last NameSpota
Trial Year2004
BodyAppeals court
OpinionThe New York Supreme Court, Appellate Term, held that the prosecutor's improper suggestion that it was the defendant's burden to prove his innocence by submitting to chemical test substantially prejudiced defendant's right to fair trial. "It is well settled that the People have the unalterable burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt every element of the crime charged [citations omitted]. The prosecutor's inquiry during cross-examination and his remark during summation, in effect, suggested to the jury that it was defendant's burden to prove his innocence by submitting to a chemical test. While defense counsel objected to the question during cross-examination, the court below erred in overruling the objection and, thus, did not take the appropriate action to dilute the implication of such inquiry. . . . While refusal to take a chemical test is admissible at trial against a defendant as evidence of his consciousness of guilt [citations omitted], the prosecution sought to use defendant's refusal for purposes beyond that allowed by the law. We conclude that the cumulative effect of such misconduct by the prosecution substantially prejudiced defendant's right to a fair trial [citations omitted]. Accordingly, the judgment convicting defendant of driving while ability impaired is reversed and a new trial is ordered as to said charge."
Determination Year2006
Misconduct TypeTR: Misstating
C/S EffectNew trial
Pros. Misc. ReportedUKN
Sanction TypeUKN
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