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Thread: Is a DA Allowed To Give The Defendant The Stink Eye During Trial?

  1. #21
    Veteran Member Madeline's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Dad View Post
    There's breach of ethics. The prosecutor's job is to build a case that puts the murderer in prison or on death row. The defendant isn't going to have the advantage of an attorney that can do whatever he or she wants while the prosecutor has to speak in a monotone and look a certain way. The prosecutor has a job to do. His job is to convince the jury.
    That's actually NOT the prosecutor's job, SD. The prosecutor's job is to SEEK JUSTICE, which is manifestly not found when the wrong person is convicted.

    By contrast, the defense lawyer owes no duty to anyone in or out of the courtroom, apart from her client, and is EXPECTED to do everything the law permits to secure the defendant a not guilty verdict.

  2. #22
    Veteran Member Southern Dad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Madeline View Post
    That's actually NOT the prosecutor's job, SD. The prosecutor's job is to SEEK JUSTICE, which is manifestly not found when the wrong person is convicted.

    By contrast, the defense lawyer owes no duty to anyone in or out of the courtroom, apart from her client, and is EXPECTED to do everything the law permits to secure her a not guilty verdict.
    Yes, the prosecutor's job is to make sure justice is done but when it gets to the trial, he or she is already satisfied that the right person is on trial and is trying to get the conviction. I know that you have to side with the criminal. We've seen this many times before. I am sorry that some murderer got his feelings hurt because the district attorney gave him the stink eye. If you think that hurt his feeling wait until you see what they do when he gets down to the prison.

  3. #23
    Veteran Member Madeline's Avatar
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    I can't find a clip of Kelly Siegler acting badly in court (of course). To illustrate the type of nonverbal communication I am describing, this episode of Law & Order's scene where the prosecutor Ben Stone cross-examines the Sinn Fein member defendant. It's not free; Amazon Prime has it for $1.99 but it's the best I can find.

    My apologies.



    "The Troubles", in which: Detectives and prosecutors face resistance from federal authorities as they pursue murder charges against an suspected IRA member serving time in federal prison, after he is suspected of killing another federal prisoner.

  4. #24
    Veteran Member Madeline's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Dad View Post
    Yes, the prosecutor's job is to make sure justice is done but when it gets to the trial, he or she is already satisfied that the right person is on trial and is trying to get the conviction. I know that you have to side with the criminal. We've seen this many times before. I am sorry that some murderer got his feelings hurt because the district attorney gave him the stink eye. If you think that hurt his feeling wait until you see what they do when he gets down to the prison.
    Well, IN THEORY you are correct. If/when the trial commences, it should be because the prosecutor is convinced of the defendant's guilt, beyond a reasonable doubt AND she has disclosed the exculpatory materials gathered by investigators to the defense counsel.

    So yes, I agree.

    Justice requires the actual guilty person be convicted, SD. There's certainly no success if the prosecutor fails to convict someone of who did, in fact, do the crime because the prosecutor was a crappy advocate.

  5. #25
    Vexatious Correspondent Leo2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Madeline View Post
    @Ian Jeffrey? @Wonderer? @Leo2?

    This matters in part because the U.S. death penalty is imposed in a VERY uneven manner. 5% of prosecutors produce almost 15% of all death sentences, and among them, the flagrant use of derisive body language is rampant.



    https://theintercept.com/2016/06/30/...s-prosecutors/

    They also "produce" a disproportionate number of misconduct findings against American prosecutors, by appellate courts and state bar associations, including misconduct severe enough to vacate guilty verdicts in cases where the death penalty was imposed at their behest.

    But I cannot find a single case where derisive facial expressions, etc., were the subject of any such misconduct proceedings.

    I doubt this conduct by lawyers in court would be tolerated in the U.K., where the police are not even permitted to lie to suspects.
    Madeline, I am flattered that you should ask my opinion on this matter - however, I am but a student of laws and jurisprudence, and not in any way qualified to give an informed opinion on the matter - particularly in respect of US court procedures.

    I have never sat in a US court while in session, and can only base my impressions upon dramatic presentations of the subject matter - I assume the procedural representations to be reasonably accurate, but I have no way of confirming this. However, assuming a reasonable degree of accuracy in such representation, the more informal layout of US courtrooms is sufficiently different from Crown courts to change the degree of interaction between witnesses and council.

    In our criminal trial system, council is not allowed to wander around the court room, or to approach either the defendant or witnesses with any proximity - which the courts sees as susceptible to intimidation. Barristers for the prosecution and defence are limited to their respective lecterns, the accused is confined to his box, and those giving testimony are confined to the witness box for the duration of the questioning.

    We have not had the death penalty for over 60 years, and prosecuting council has no say in respect to the penalties imposed by the courts. Sentencing is for the judge, and any associates, alone, and is only done after the jury has been discharged, and any criminal record of the defendant is made known in the absence of said jury. British jurisprudence considers it necessary that the jury have no knowledge of prior convictions or criminal history of the defendant - to do otherwise, would be to introduce bias amongst jurors, and under no circumstances are jurors allowed to be involved in the sentencing of those convicted.

    And, lol, the only officials who use gavels in our society, are auctioneers.

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Madeline View Post
    Can the prosecutor use body language and facial expressions to communicate deep contempt for the defendant in front of the jury at trial?

    If not, why?
    This would probably be up to the Judge.
    Thanks from Madeline

  7. #27
    Veteran Member Madeline's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leo2 View Post
    Madeline, I am flattered that you should ask my opinion on this matter - however, I am but a student of laws and jurisprudence, and not in any way qualified to give an informed opinion on the matter - particularly in respect of US court procedures.

    I have never sat in a US court while in session, and can only base my impressions upon dramatic presentations of the subject matter - I assume the procedural representations to be reasonably accurate, but I have no way of confirming this. However, assuming a reasonable degree of accuracy in such representation, the more informal layout of US courtrooms is sufficiently different from Crown courts to change the degree of interaction between witnesses and council.

    In our criminal trial system, council is not allowed to wander around the court room, or to approach either the defendant or witnesses with any proximity - which the courts sees as susceptible to intimidation. Barristers for the prosecution and defence are limited to their respective lecterns, the accused is confined to his box, and those giving testimony are confined to the witness box for the duration of the questioning.

    We have not had the death penalty for over 60 years, and prosecuting council has no say in respect to the penalties imposed by the courts. Sentencing is for the judge, and any associates, alone, and is only done after the jury has been discharged, and any criminal record of the defendant is made known in the absence of said jury. British jurisprudence considers it necessary that the jury have no knowledge of prior convictions or criminal history of the defendant - to do otherwise, would be to introduce bias amongst jurors, and under no circumstances are jurors allowed to be involved in the sentencing of those convicted.

    And, lol, the only officials who use gavels in our society, are auctioneers.
    No wandering? No stalking around? No banging on the jury's banister?

    Lol.

    I actually admire your legal system, as far as I understand it, very much.

    Thanks for the reply!
    Thanks from Leo2

  8. #28
    Spock of Vulcan Ian Jeffrey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leo2 View Post
    I have never sat in a US court while in session, and can only base my impressions upon dramatic presentations of the subject matter - I assume the procedural representations to be reasonably accurate, but I have no way of confirming this. However, assuming a reasonable degree of accuracy in such representation, the more informal layout of US courtrooms is sufficiently different from Crown courts to change the degree of interaction between witnesses and council.
    Courtroom layout is usually fairly accurate, though most courtrooms (depending on location) may not be so large as typically portrayed. But do not depend on dramatic presentations that are not documentaries; TV shows, at least in the U.S., are generally horribly inaccurate with respect to anything that goes outside the story they want to tell. When watching the original Law & Order series* (I've only seen the first 8 seasons, all that was available on NetFlix at the time), my out-loud reactions to the courtroom portion of the show was "you can't do that!" One time, the judge on the show said to a defense lawyer "you can't do that," and my reaction was "of course you can do that - you have to do that, and might be malpractice if he didn't!" I do not remember the scenario, however ... probably ten years since I saw that.

    * I watch Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, but only for the entertainment; I doubt they always consult a real lawyer when preparing scripts, as with all the other L&O series.

    Quote Originally Posted by Leo2 View Post
    In our criminal trial system, council is not allowed to wander around the court room, or to approach either the defendant or witnesses with any proximity - which the courts sees as susceptible to intimidation. Barristers for the prosecution and defence are limited to their respective lecterns, the accused is confined to his box, and those giving testimony are confined to the witness box for the duration of the questioning.
    This varies from place to place (even within the same state), and often depends on the judge. One is permitted to stand and move around while addressing a jury, though, and may generally approach a witness with exhibits. I did see a colleague (in a case I sat on as co-counsel) approach an expert witness (for the state; it was a cross-examination, obviously) with a laptop.

    Quote Originally Posted by Leo2 View Post
    British jurisprudence considers it necessary that the jury have no knowledge of prior convictions or criminal history of the defendant - to do otherwise, would be to introduce bias amongst jurors...
    In my state, certain past criminal acts may be presented to the jury: 1) felonies of any kind; 2) crimes of dishonesty, whether or not felonies. These would be subject to other rules by which they could be excluded as well. This general rule varies from state to state, and is not quite the same as the Federal Rules of Evidence (which are of course only applicable in federal courts).
    Thanks from Madeline and Leo2

  9. #29
    Veteran Member Madeline's Avatar
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    I agree with you, @Ian Jeffrey. I was in a federal court and a state supreme court a few times, and those were truly magnificent rooms, inside truly grandiose buildings.

    But 99% of my trial work was done in "courtrooms" that looked like Greyhound bus lines waiting rooms.
    Thanks from Ian Jeffrey

  10. #30
    Vexatious Correspondent Leo2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Madeline View Post
    I agree with you, @Ian Jeffrey. I was in a federal court and a state supreme court a few times, and those were truly magnificent rooms, inside truly grandiose buildings.

    But 99% of my trial work was done in "courtrooms" that looked like Greyhound bus lines waiting rooms.
    British courtrooms are more formal, but generally not large or particularly grandiose - this is a fairly typical example -



    And some District Magistrate's courts can be as plain as this -



    Of course some - such as the Central Criminal Court in London (better known as The Old Bailey,) can be a little more elaborate.

    This is one of the many court rooms in The Old Bailey -



    And this is the grand hall -



    The Royal Courts of Justice -

    Last edited by Leo2; 4th March 2018 at 08:58 PM.
    Thanks from Ian Jeffrey and Madeline

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