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  1. #1

    Default Can a Prosecutor Point Out that a Defendant is Represented by Public Defenders

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: USA

    Is it prejudicial, impassioning and inflammatory for a prosecutor to make it a clear point to a jury that a defendant is represented by the Public Defender?

    Is it improper for the defendant's counsel to reinforce that announcement by introducing themselves as Public Defenders.

    I'm kinda thinking it is improper and serves to prejudice a jury for reasons that may not be obvious to anyone just having walking around sense.

    Any opinions?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Is It Prejudicial, Impassioning and Inflammatory for a Prosecutor

    Quote Quoting JustANobody
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    My question involves criminal law for the state of: USA
    I'm kinda thinking it is improper and serves to prejudice a jury for reasons that may not be obvious to anyone just having walking around sense.

    Any opinions?
    A lot depends on the particular charges the defendant faces, exactly what is said, and the laws of the state in which the prosecution is taking place, and you did not mention a state. In general all telling a jury that the defendant’s lawyer is a public defender does is tell the jury that the defendant has insufficient means to pay for a lawyer himself/herself. Unless that fact is somehow relevant to the crime that the defendant is accused of committing I don't see any harm to the defendant in having the jury know his/her lawyer is a public defender. What kind of prejudice are you thinking occurs here?

  3. #3

    Default Re: Is It Prejudicial, Impassioning and Inflammatory for a Prosecutor

    Say the defendant paid 5 or 6 figures for legal counsel, would it be prejudicial for the prosecutor to incorrectly state the defendant was represented by the public defender? Appointed Counsel?

    Is there a difference between the Public Defender and appointed counsel? Other than the title and oath, I don't think so.

    The prejudice resulting from the jury hearing that which is not relevant and contrary to the defendant's 6th amendment rights, is the jury panelists are paying for both sides and one might be a bit desensitized not to believe a panelist will harbor a natural bias against somebody that cannot afford counsel as opposed to a defendant that rolls in with a law firm everyone knows costs at least as much as a down payment on a home, if not a home.

    I'm thinking years of outcomes reflect juries generally believe wealthy people are less likely to be guilty.

    I suppose the flip side might be a jury may actually expect less vigorous defense by a public defender regardless of innocence or guilt, that could work either way.

    Thanks for being open minded and asking.

    For the purposes of this discussion of a hypothetical, the USA is sufficient and what was said was 'the defendant is represented by the public defender' during prosecution's opening and the public defender introduced themselves the same way during their opening.

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    Default Re: Is It Prejudicial, Impassioning and Inflammatory for a Prosecutor

    There's really no point in trying to discuss this as a hypothetical, with evolving and changing facts, as the answer will depend upon the actual facts. Also, laws and rules of ethics vary by state, so if you want a fifty state analysis you should think about hiring somebody to do that research for you.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Is It Prejudicial, Impassioning and Inflammatory for a Prosecutor

    AS IF, the actual venue made any difference in this typical-of-"here" non-discussion about a very simple concept. I don't recall such a point ever being made in any United States District Courts.

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    Default Re: Is It Prejudicial, Impassioning and Inflammatory for a Prosecutor

    If you merely want to chit-chat, go to "banter" or "debate the issues".

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    Default Re: Is It Prejudicial, Impassioning and Inflammatory for a Prosecutor

    Quote Quoting JustANobody
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    For the purposes of this discussion of a hypothetical, the USA is sufficient and what was said was 'the defendant is represented by the public defender' during prosecution's opening and the public defender introduced themselves the same way during their opening.
    Then unless the defendant’s financial means was somehow relevant to the trial there is almost certainly no chance of prejudice in a simple statement that the defendant is represented by a public defender.

    Quote Quoting JustANobody
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    The prejudice resulting from the jury hearing that which is not relevant and contrary to the defendant's 6th amendment rights, is the jury panelists are paying for both sides and one might be a bit desensitized not to believe a panelist will harbor a natural bias against somebody that cannot afford counsel as opposed to a defendant that rolls in with a law firm everyone knows costs at least as much as a down payment on a home, if not a home.

    I'm thinking years of outcomes reflect juries generally believe wealthy people are less likely to be guilty.
    Your logic is flawed. In most trials, the wealth (or lack of it) is not presented to the jury, and there are no reliable studies that suggest that juries tend to think that wealth alone bears on the issue of guilt, or even plays any significant part in it. What you do see is that people with wealth can afford to buy the best legal services, and that better representation then shows in the outcomes that the person gets. In other words, the jury is persuaded by the good representation, not by the mere fact that the defendant is wealthy. It is just simply the fact that wealth allows a person to buy that good representation.

    In most circumstances I don't see a defendant getting any traction making an issue over a statement that he was represented by a public defender.

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    Default Re: Is It Prejudicial, Impassioning and Inflammatory for a Prosecutor

    Public defenders attend the same law schools, pass the same exams, take the same Bar exams, and receive the same law license by the same licensing body. The difference between a paid attorney and a public defender is that the PD has chosen to represent the poor instead of the wealthy. They are not some kind of lesser being that indicate a poor representation, or guilt, simply by their existence.

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    Default Re: Is It Prejudicial, Impassioning and Inflammatory for a Prosecutor

    Quote Quoting cbg
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    Public defenders attend the same law schools, pass the same exams, take the same Bar exams, and receive the same law license by the same licensing body. The difference between a paid attorney and a public defender is that the PD has chosen to represent the poor instead of the wealthy. They are not some kind of lesser being that indicate a poor representation, or guilt, simply by their existence.
    While I agree with that, the degree to which a public defender (PD) can match the time and resources available to a well funded private attorney vary significantly across the U.S., and in most states for most types of offenses the PD will not be able to deliver the kind of service that a private attorney is able provide, paid for of course by his client.

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    Default Re: Is It Prejudicial, Impassioning and Inflammatory for a Prosecutor

    That is true. It is still not something that automatically puts the defendant at a disadvantage and needs to be hidden.

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