Thursday, November 15, 2007
The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed a conviction for driving while intoxicated notwithstanding the fact that the car was out of gas when the authorities came upon the defendant. The prosecutor made the following argument:
"During his rebuttal closing argument, the prosecutor said, "Balderdash. Smoke and mirrors. That's what you got. Smoke and mirrors." "Balderdash" is defined as "nonsense." Webster's New World Dictionary, 106 (2d ed. 1980). [Defendant's] counsel did not object at trial to these comments but argued on appeal it was an obvious error affecting her substantial rights."
Defense counsel contended that he was unaware of the meaning of "Balderdash." The court disapproved of the prosecutor's argument but found that the improper comment did not affect substantial rights, as the jury probably didn't know what it meant, either.
Not too long ago, my views about certain actions of the D.C. Board on Professional Responsibility were dismissed as "Poppycock." I had to look it up, although I was pretty sure it was not intended to be a compliment. Turns out one of the synonyms is Balderdash. (Mike Frisch)