We all think and say it: images are worth a thousand words. The same is true when prosecuting a case. Prof. Bennett L. Gershman of Pace Law School, in his latest HuffPost piece titled Prosecutorial Misconduct Using Courtroom Technology, challenges the way some prosecutors put on their cases when using technology. He suggests that many increasingly cross the line when they use technology to suggest that “‘beyond reasonable doubt’ is really not that demanding” of a standard, when they use “visual trickery” to awaken an angry and emotional reaction out of jury, or when they sway juries by showing “misleading and prejudicial images” during their closing arguments.
Prof. Gershman states that
[a]lthough there’s nothing inherently wrong with using technology in the courtroom, more and more prosecutors cross the line by exploiting the power of technology to skew the way juries analyze the evidence, and thereby prejudice a defendant’s right to a fair trial.
Check it out and share your thoughts.
DA Mary Rain recently had to defend an extensive appellate delay caused by one of the attorneys in her office. Is there a better solution to extensive delays in criminal appeals?
Pace Professor Bennett Gershman makes a case for the establishing a prosecutorial misconduct commission, as New York considers doing just that. Read the article in The Daily Beast titled How to Hold Bad Prosecutors Accountable: The Case for a Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct.
As we reported last week, a hearing was held on Friday, May 29 on the motion for appointment of a special prosecutor in Ferguson. After a contentious discussion the Judge Joseph L. Walsh III agreed to consider the expert affidavit of Prof. Bennett Gershman on the issue of prosecutorial misconduct in the grand jury.
Gershman complained about a “gross deviation from proper standards of conduct,” saying he never before saw prosecutors go to “extraordinary lengths to exonerate a potential defendant.”
This Friday, May 29, 2015, a hearing will be held in Missouri State Court in the matter of State of Missouri ex inf. Montague Simmons, et al., v. Robert McCulloch, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney, seeking appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the St. Louis County Prosecutor’s conduct in the grand jury in State of Missouri v. Darren Wilson (previously discussed here). The Wilson matter arose from the death of Michael Brown. After a grand jury presentation, the grand jury failed to indict Officer Wilson in the death of Mr. Brown.
Missouri has an interesting statute, Missouri Revised Statutes §§ 106.220–106.290, that allows a private citizen to bring an action for an investigation to determine if a sitting prosecutor’s conduct constituted a failure to perform the duties of his public office. If so found, a special prosecutor would be appointed with authority to file a writ of quo warranto action seeking ouster of the sitting prosecutor from office.
The motion is supported by the affidavit of Prof. Bennett Gershman, from Pace Law School, who addresses the questions of serious misconduct in the presentation of the case to the grand jury.