Prosecutor Commits Clear Error in Closing Statement; Conviction Upheld.


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Case: People v. Hanley

Court: Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion )

Judges: Per Curiam - Gleicher, Sawyer, and M.J. Kelly

Issues:

Prosecutorial error; Civic duty; People v. Bahoda; United States v. Monaghan(DC Cir.); Eliciting testimony from a witness who allegedly purchased pseudoephedrine for defendant’s operation; Ineffective assistance of counsel; Failure to object to the prosecutor’s alleged civic duty argument & to the cited testimony; United States v. Cronic; People v. Galloway

Summary:

The court held that although a portion of the prosecutor’s closing argument crossed the line of proper advocacy, the defendant failed to establish that the conduct denied him a fair trial. Also, he was not entitled to reversal on the basis of ineffective assistance of counsel. He was convicted of owning or possessing equipment to be used for the purpose of manufacturing meth. He challenged the prosecutor’s closing argument as improper appeals to the jurors’ civic duty. His guilt rose or fell on whether he maintained a meth lab in his home. That a “drug epidemic” may exist in the county was not the subject of any testimony, nor should it have been. The prosecutor’s comments as to “a very concerning situation that’s overflowing into” the county “and the ‘battle . . . in our community’ fought by law enforcement officers did not speak to whether he committed the offense alleged. Rather, these portions of the prosecutor’s argument appealed to the community’s interest in alleviating the drug trade.” Thus, they were improper and rose to the level of plain error. However, the court was confident that in light of the substantial evidence against defendant, the comments did “not affect the outcome of the trial or seriously affect the fairness, integrity, or public reputation of the proceedings.” Affirmed.

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