It’s prosecutorial misconduct week here at “a public defender” and I’ve finally come across a decision that invokes no other reaction than the aforementioned Fonzie “ayyy!”. In fact, it’s how I imagine the three judges who signed on to the opinion reacting when faced with all the instances of egregious misconduct and yet rendering a decision that – yet again – condoned and sanctioned the behavior.
This time, in State v. Albino, the Appellate Court cannot but agree that the numerous instances of unacceptable behavior, that they gingerly call “improper”, crossed the bounds of acceptable lawyering, yet somehow they find a way to affirm, because the defendant was convicted of murder, after all and he was really, really guilty.
Here’s but a sampling of the key misconduct. From referring to the decedent as a victim and the crime as murder:
The defendant first contends that the prosecutor acted improperly when he ‘‘repeatedly commented on the guilt of [the] defendant and attempted to influence the jury by his persistent use of the terms ‘victim,’ ‘murder,’ and ‘murder weapon’ throughout the trial …’’ The defendant contends that the prosecutor referred to Rivera as the ‘‘victim’’ thirty-one times, referred to his death as ‘‘murder’’ five times, and referred to the firearm as the ‘‘murder weapon’’ eight times during closing argument. He directs us to similar occurrences during the prosecutor’s questioning of trial witnesses where he alleges that the prosecutor referred to Rivera as the ‘‘victim’’ twenty-seven times, referred to his death as ‘‘murder’’ twelve times, and referred to the firearm as the ‘‘murder weapon’’ six times. We agree that in a case such as this, where the defendant has asserted a self-defense claim, it is improper for the prosecutor repeatedly to use the words victim, murder and murder weapon throughout the trial.
To arguing that in order to believe the defendant, the jury would have to find all the witnesses were lying: