Closing Arguments and the Record

Closing Arguments and the Record

  This is why you need a well qualified attorney.  As you can see in this case, even when an attorney doesn't win an argument at court, there is a reason to make the argument, and that's for appeal purposes.  Here the Defense made a record of the need for particular leeway in closing arguments.  That leeway was wrongfully denied.  Luckily, since there was a record, the Minnesota Supreme Court reversed that decision.

A13-0961       State of Minnesota, Respondent, vs. David Muniz Bustos, Appellant.
                     McLeod County.
           1.   The district court committed plain error when it precluded defense counsel from arguing that the State had failed to prove any alleged incident of prior domestic abuse beyond a reasonable doubt.
           2.   The district court also committed plain error when it gave the jury an incorrect definition of domestic abuse.
           3.   The cumulative effect of the district court’s errors affected appellant’s substantial rights.  A new trial on the charge of first-degree domestic-abuse murder is required because the errors, taken together, seriously affected the fairness, integrity, and public reputation of judicial proceedings.
           4.   There is no reasonable possibility that the exclusion of the preliminary breath test results contributed to the jury’s finding of guilt on the second-degree intentional murder charge.  Therefore, even if the exclusion was erroneous, any potential error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.
           Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for a new trial.  Justice G. Barry Anderson.
           Dissenting, Justice Wilhelmina M. Wright, Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea and Justice Christopher J. Dietzen.


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