A recent Washington Court of Appeals, Division One case reflects that successfully appealing jury convictions is pretty darn difficult in domestic violence cases. In Washington v. Bato a prosecutor’s repeated references during closing argument to facts outside the record (clearly prosecutorial misconduct) apparently did not warrant a new trial.
In the Bato case, the alleged victim had written a statement for police that was not admitted as evidence at trial. That statement included allegations that the defendant had dragged her into the bedroom, thrown her on the bed, and threatened her life with knives. She later stated she did not remember what she said or whether these facts were true. Thus, these statements were suppressed and were not admitted at trial or for jury consideration. Notwithstanding this, during closing arguments, the prosecutor made references to “the knives” and “the threats” and “the dragging.”; this was despite the fact that the information had been barred from trial. The defense objected to each of these statements, but the judge overruled and instead followed each time with a reminder to jurors that statements by lawyers during closing argument are not evidence. The court also summarily rejected a motion for mistrial, and the defendant was subsequently convicted.
On appeal, the panel noted it is improper for prosecutors to make arguments based on facts not included in the evidence. However, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion for mistrial because a mistrial is only warranted when facts are so prejudiced that nothing short of a new trial will assure the defendant will be tried fairly. The panel considered trial judge’s verbal and written instructions as well as the evidence and found the lower court had not acted improperly in denying a new trial. The conviction was upheld. In short, the court summarily dismissed the prosecutor’s egregious and unsavory behavior and chose to uphold the conviction regardless of the unseemly behavior of the prosecutor.
The Bato case illustrates why it is important to have a savvy and well seasoned Seattle domestic violence lawyer on your side immediately upon being cited and/or charged with domestic violence. A highly qualified Seattle domestic violence attorney will understand how to best fight the allegations. A Seattle domestic violence attorney will be best equipped to help with the meanderings of our criminal court system.
The Seattle domestic violence attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified and reputable Seattle domestic violence lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those arrested for crime all across Western Washington and the Greater Puget Sound region. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the criminal allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances of the given case. So, whether cited for assault, property destruction or some other domestic violence related crime, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys immediately.