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Prosecutorial Misconduct Found in Domestic Violence Trial

02
May
2010

by in Criminal Appeals

State v. J.I.F., unpublished opinion, App. Div. Docket No. A-6270-07T4 (March 4, 2010) – Conviction reversed. “Defendant asserts that his right to a fair trial was violated by the prosecutor’s summation. Specifically, he contends that the prosecutor ‘suggested that the jury could reach its own conclusions as to how many times prior to this incident the defendant had battered [the victim] despite the fact that no evidence was admitted concerning prior instances of domestic violence.’…

[W]e are satisfied that the prosecutor should not have posed those two above-emphasized rhetorical questions to the jury [asking, ‘Do you think this is a one time episode in that house?’] because there was in actuality no evidence of any prior assaults or prior coercion. We cannot say that this ‘invitation to the jury to speculate ‘ had no ‘palpable impact’ impact on the jury’s verdict …, particularly because the testimony of Dr. Lischick should not have been admitted. We are not satisfied that the judge’s curative instruction insulated the jury from any improper speculation. Defendant’s motion for a mistrial should have been granted.” See also EVIDENCE.

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