Sometimes, even cases going on out-of-state can shed some important light on the way Maryland criminal defense law works. A recent ruling from Alaska that threw out a man’s murder conviction due to a prosecutor’s closing argument is particularly interesting for Marylanders as, among the cases the Alaska court took note of, and quoted from, was a very significant 1992 Maryland ruling whose impact continues to this day.
Making sure that the arguments made against you are only those things that the law allows is one area where skilled Maryland criminal defense counsel can help. Not only can your experienced defense attorney identify what the prosecution can (and, more importantly, cannot) get away with, your knowledgeable attorney will also know how to go about taking the proper steps keep those improper harmful arguments out of your case.
In the Alaska case, J.A. was on trial for stabbing a man to death. At closing arguments, the prosecutor went to some length to point out that, even if the jury convicted the man, the accused would still have recourse, such as asking the trial judge to set aside the verdict or appealing the conviction to the Court of Appeals (or the Supreme Court after that.) The Court of Appeals in that state threw out the conviction as a result of that argument. By “assuring the jurors that, if they made a mistake, the trial judge or an appellate court would fix it later,” the prosecutor misled the jury about the finality and importance of their decision.