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More broadly, however, I feel compelled to address the prosecution’s conduct and the tactics it employed throughout the trial. The prosecution fell short of the high level of professionalism that we expect prosecutors to embody, even if their actions did not rise to the level of misconduct. An unfortunate but notable feature of this trial was that the district court exerted considerable time and energy corralling the prosecution’s often wayward tactics. Starting in voir dire and continuing through the testimony of multiple witnesses, the prosecution frequently appeared to ignore the court’s rulings when it disagreed with them, eliciting remarks from the court including:
• “Counsel, you know that’s improper.” • “[W]hy would you go there?” • “We went over this. . . . I may be wrong, but I ruled. Let’s go.” • “We’ve had this conversation through other witnesses. Counsel, move on.” • “We did this yesterday. I’m not revisiting. Anybody [who] wants to go back to the transcript, can.” • “I don’t know . . . how many other languages to speak to you. . . . I said how to proceed. Proceed that way.” • “What you have to do is to remember we have had some rules in this trial and somehow they seem to have been forgotten.”
The court’s admonitions, it seems, had little effect. After a particularly volatile exchange between a prosecutor and defense witness Miller, in which the prosecutor admitted that he lost his composure, the district court warned that he was “close” to causing a mistrial. Afterward, outside the presence of the jury, she admonished the prosecutor, telling him: “You’re better than having to go to the lowest part of your anger in order to examine this witness. . . . [Y]ou’re an experienced cross-examiner. You didn’t have to do that. I would have expected that of someone of less experience than you.” The district court lamented that things “got very messy and uncontrolled.”
But apparently not bad enough to get a new trial or reversal. Instead of any actual consequences, the court says, in a concurrence by all three judges, that the prosecutors shouldn't do this again.
Nothing is going to change regarding the epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct until there are some consequences. I mean, the prosecutors in this case aren't even named in the opinion. Defendants receive obstruction enhancements for less. Walks of shame are not enough...
Prosecutors speak to Judge Cooke in ways they don't to other judges. Will the new US Attorney address?
Prosecutor was Roger Cruz.
Considering that another federal prosecutor who was found by a district judge to have engaged in misconduct was appointed to the state bench thereafter--no, I don't think that judicial opinions without teeth or sanctions do anything at all.
He'll probably be the next magistrate judge.
Wait, I thought prosecutors were the good guys. You know, just like cops.
How come the 11th circuit doesn’t vacate convictions with the admonition to the defendant to just never do this again?
And am I correct to understand this trial and misconduct occurred when the office was run by an appointee of the prior administration? Perhaps the prosecutor was taking his cue on how to act from the President.
And I agree with the prior comment about Judge Cooke with this thought - I believe she commands as much if not more respect on the bench than many of her colleagues. She seems awfully restrained here. I’ve seen her dress lawyers down worse than this. I’ve also seen her take lawyers sidebar and gently warn them they are about to go places where the waters are rocky. She is in all aspects a very experienced trial judge. I’m a bit surprised an AUSA would think they could get away with this. But I’m not surprised to see one lose their temper when a witness has the temerity to stand up to them. Like a spoiled 4 year old, they do not like being told NO.
This is nice--panel finally decides 2018 appeal affirming conviction; convicted officer already completed 3-year prison sentence.
Huntley filed his initial brief in April of 2021. The resolution was pretty quick.
How does that happen? Were there post-trial motions that tolled the time to appeal? Seems like someone headed to prison would be in a hurry to get their appeal filed and heard.
Let me google that for you. Just check the docket.
Ok I took your advice. His attorney (also named Huntley - brother?) must have set a record for extensions to file initial brief - I'm talking dozens - all while his client was sitting in prison. Yikes.
Interesting that you dwell on the concurring opinion by Judge Wilson, while the majority opinion considered only the prosecutor's comments on the theory of defense instruction, ultimately deciding that he did not overstep his bounds. To be sure, a theory of defense instruction is not the law that a juror must follow. It needs to pass legal muster by virtue of an evidentiary basis in the record that can support a theory of defense. To say that the theory of defense is not the law, while not artful, was nevertheless not legally infirm. If, in fact, the prosecutor demonstrated that there was insufficient evidence supporting the defense's theory of the defense, the jury was entitled to reject the defense's theory. Judge Wilson's friendly advice to the AUSA should be well taken. The next time the AUSA decides to disregard court orders may not be in front of a Judge who has the patience and temperament of a Judge Cooke.
Why do some prosecutors get more deference than others? Why didn't Judge Cook sanction him?
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