Case Detail
CitationPeople v. Hammock, 182 A.D.2d 1114, 583 N.Y.S.2d 89 (N.Y. App. Div. 1992)
CrimeMurder
StateNY
Pros. First NameUKN
Pros. Last NameUKN
FederalNo
Trial YearUKN
BodyAppeals court
OpinionThe New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, held that (1) the prosecutor committed reversible error by attempting to introduce the prosecution witness' earlier statement regarding an admission made to her by the defendant, after she had testified at trial that defendant had said nothing to her regarding committing crime; (2) evidence that the defendant was on parole at the time he committed the crime was improperly introduced; and (3) the prosecutor improperly spoke to the media regarding the case, despite the gag rule. "The prohibition imposed upon the prosecutor by the trial court pursuant to CPL 60.35 was correct [citation omitted]. [Prosecution witness] Maddox's unwillingness to testify to something she had previously disclosed to the police did not 'tend to disprove the position' of the People and, accordingly, could not be used 'for the purpose of refreshing the recollection of [Maddox] in a manner that discloses its contents to the trier of the facts' (CPL 60.35 [3] ). The prosecutor's attempt, notwithstanding the prior direction of the court, was a flagrant violation of the court's ruling, verging on contempt. It was compounded by the prosecutor's advance knowledge that Maddox would not so testify. Our court has warned that '[a] party is not permitted to impeach its witness by his former statements where it has been amply warned of the adverse thrust of the witness'[s] testimony [citations omitted]' [citation omitted]. . . . Here, the prosecutor deliberately disregarded the court's instruction in an inexcusable bootstrap attempt to get evidence before the jury that he knew he was not permitted to introduce [citation omitted]. The prejudice to defendant was magnified by the failure of the court to give curative instructions. . . . Additionally, defendant's parole officer, brought in by the People as a witness for the ostensible purpose of identifying a photograph depicting defendant's home, exposed to the jury that defendant was on parole. Although it gave a minimal curative instruction, the court erred in permitting, over objection, the parole officer to testify that he had seen defendant 15 times in a 14–month period, thereby impressing on the jury the fact that defendant was on parole. . . . We also note that, in spite of the gag rule imposed by the trial court, and while the court was still considering defendant's motion for a mistrial brought on by the parole officer's disclosure, the prosecutor allowed himself to be interviewed by a local newspaper and discussed the effect a mistrial would have upon this well-publicized double murder case." The court noted that despite the overwhelming proof of the defendant's guilt, due to the "programmed and deliberate" misconduct of the prosecutor "in flagrant disobedience" of the court, the court ordered a new trial.
Determination Year1992
Misconduct TypeTR: Inadmissible
GEN: Extrajudicial
C/S EffectNew trial
Pros. Misc. ReportedUKN
SanctionsUKN
Sanction TypeUKN
Web linkhttp://leagle.com/decision/19981212255AD2d957_1262.xml/PEOPLE%20v.%20HAMMOCK