Archive for April, 2010

Apr
05

Phoenix prosecuting attorney sanctioned by State Bar

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A Deputy Maricopa County Attorney was recently suspended from practicing law for one month and placed on probation for one year.  The sanctions arise from the prosecutor’s conduct during a homicide trial wherein he committed numerous acts of misconduct including the presentation of evidence that the judge had previously suppressed.  Prior to the sanctions being imposed against the attorney, a hearing officer appointed by the bar prepared a report which included the following description of one such incident:

In his opening statement while referring to certain photographs depicting bloody footprints, Respondent stated: “And some of those footsteps will be footsteps from the perpetrators, one of whom was the defendant, Mr. Jones …. [T]he blood tracks here, some of which are from Ms. Perez, some are from the perpetrators such as the defendant.”

There was insufficient physical evidence to connect the footprints to Jones.

In fact there was no evidence to connect any bloody print to any particular

Respondent argued that his opening statement on this issue was proper because some of the victim’s blood had been found in a vehicle owned (or operated) by the other defendant who pled guilty. Therefore, Respondent reasoned: someone had walked through the victim’s blood and then gone into the vehicle; that someone was a perpetrator; the State alleged Jones was a perpetrator; therefore the statement was literally true.

THE COURT: There’s — is there any evidence that any of

those footprints match [the Defendant], whether it’s his

blood or his — anything?

MR. DUFFY: No. I can’t prove that any of those footprints

match anyone, except I know that one of the perpetrators’

footprints did leave Mr. Medina — Mr. Aispuro’s blood on

the back floor mat of Palo fox’s Suburban. So I do know that

one of those sets of footprints is from one of the

perpetrators. I do know that. Which one, I don’t know. Does

It make a difference?

THE COURT: Well, when he’s sitting here as a defendant,

it does.

MR. DUFFY: I don’t think it does, because it’s accomplice

liability.

Respondent knowingly tried to tie footprints to Jones when he knew that such footprints were not matched to Jones. Moreover, Respondent argued that Jones was a perpetrator, and some perpetrator had left blood from the victim in the vehicle, which was improper argument for an opening statement.

The trial court was compelled by Respondent’s repeated improper arguments in opening statement to reinstruct the jury that “what the lawyers say in opening statements is not evidence nor should it be argument.”

(citations omitted)

41.  In his  opening  statement while  referring  to  certain photographs  depicting
bloody  footprints,  Respondent  stated:  “And  some  of those  footsteps  will  be  footsteps
from the perpetrators, one of whom was the defendant, Mr. Jones  …. [T]he blood tracks
here,  some  of which  are  from  Ms.  Perez,  some  are  from  the  perpetrators  such  as  the
defendant.”  Ex.  12 at SBA 166; see also Ex.  12 at SBA 167.
Categories : Criminal Law
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