Wednesday, August 15, 2012
The New Jersey Supreme Court reversed a decision of the Appellate Division and reinstated a criminal conviction, concluding that the prosecutor's comments during summation did not require a mistrial.
The comments at issue involved the conduct of Officer Wayne Bizzaro. The defense had, in its closing argument, focused on the officer's conduct and suggested that the defendant was misidentified as the perpetrator.
In rebuttal, the prosecutor responded by discussing Officer Bizzaro's suspension without pay, that the officer was "being sued for a million dollars" and that the defendant "wants to be a millionare."
The court found that the remarks were improper and extraneous but grounded in the evidence. Further, timely limiting instructions by the trial court sufficiently cured any prejudice to the defendant. (Mike Frisch)