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The Champion

April 2009 , Page 60 

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Moriarty Offers Tips on Recognizing Prosecutorial Misconduct

By Quintin Chatman

For various reasons, defense attorneys do not object during trial when prosecutors make improper comments. But objecting is important because these improper comments are harmful, Mary F. Moriarty told attendees in New Orleans at NACDL’s midwinter conference on February 26. Why are these comments harmful? “They are devastatingly effective because they tug at the emotions of the jurors and entice them to let emotions enter into jury deliberations,” Moriarty said.

Moriarty, a public defender in Hennepin County, Minnesota, told the conference audience that jurors come to court thinking that they will make a decision in the same way they make decisions in their everyday lives. But when people are selected to sit on a jury, the court “gives them a set of artificial rules,” including a rule requiring them to presume the accused is innocent. “That’s not what we do when we read about crime or misconduct in the newspaper or watch the news on television. We don’t say, ‘I presume that person is inn

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