Monday, April 6, 2009
As has been noted on this blog and elsewhere, there appears to be an emerging trend of bar prosecutions against prosecutors. An Arizona hearing officer recently recommended a 30 day suspension of a deputy county attorney for misconduct in a criminal case that included charges of rape, armed robbery and first degree murder. Some of the charges were predicated on a theory of accomplice liability.
The hearing officer found that "it is particularly troubling that [the] conduct began in opening statement and continued through rebuttal argument." The prosecutor had "carefully considered and deliberately chose to engage in the conduct at issue here. The repeated improper argument in opening statement, even after being admonished by the court, and the improper [closing] argument of the burden of proof were carefully calculated 'bookends' to [his] conduct of the...trial."
The prosecutor had, among other things, put before the jury evidence that the defendant was in prison, asked improper questions about inadmissible prior crimes, misrepresented DNA and other evidence, implied to the jury that incriminating evidence had been withheld and asserted personal knowledge of the facts by saying "we know" and "we can prove" in his opening statement.
Only 30 days? (Mike Frisch)