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Witness Coaching By Prosecutors, Bennett L. Gershman Jan 2002

Witness Coaching By Prosecutors, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

Given its controversial nature, one would expect the practice and ethics of witness coaching to have attracted close scrutiny by courts and commentators. Interestingly, however, the subject has received relatively modest attention. A handful of judicial and ethics opinions have discussed superficially the subject of witness preparation and coaching. Practitioner manuals typically offer general guidance on how to prepare witnesses, and occasionally address tactical and ethical issues involved in coaching. Scholarly commentary has examined the ethical limits of witness preparation, particularly by differentiating acceptable techniques from improper techniques, which promote false or misleading testimony. In addition, popular culture occasionally has ...


Child Witnesses And Procedural Fairness, Bennett L. Gershman Jan 2001

Child Witnesses And Procedural Fairness, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

Professor Gershman's Article notes that courts and lawmakers have changed procedural and evidentiary rules to protect child witnesses in child sexual abuse cases. Gershman discusses how courts apply the changed rules with careful scrutiny in an effort to ensure that the interests of the child witness and the accused defendant are appropriately balanced.


The Prosecutor's Duty To Truth, Bennett L. Gershman Jan 2001

The Prosecutor's Duty To Truth, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

Part I of this Article discusses the prosecutor's duty to refrain from conduct that impedes the search for truth. A prosecutor may impede the truth-finding process in several ways: (1) distorting the truth by attacking the defendant's character, misleading and misrepresenting facts, and engaging in inflammatory conduct; (2) subverting the truth by making false statements and presenting false evidence; (3) suppressing the truth by failing to disclose potentially truth-enhancing evidence or obstructing defense access to potentially truth-enhancing evidence; and (4) other truth-disserving conduct that exploits defense counsel's misconduct and mistakes and prevents introduction of potentially truth-serving defenses ...


Lie Detection: The Supreme Court's Polygraph Decision, Bennett L. Gershman Sep 1998

Lie Detection: The Supreme Court's Polygraph Decision, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

In United States v. Scheffer, decided this past Term, the Supreme Court considered for the first time the admissibility of polygraph evidence. The Court held that exclusion of such evidence on behalf of a criminal defendant was supported by valid justifications and offended no constitutional right to present a defense.


Mental Culpability And Prosecutorial Misconduct, Bennett L. Gershman Jan 1998

Mental Culpability And Prosecutorial Misconduct, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

This Article argues that a prosecutor's intent is always relevant to the courts' analysis of misconduct, and that the courts should always consider a prosecutor's intent in determining whether a rule was violated and whether the verdict was prejudiced. Part II of this Article examines the use of the objective test to analyze a prosecutor's trial conduct. Part II offers several reasons courts give for avoiding inquiry into a prosecutor's mental culpability, analyzes those reasons, and concludes that although the application of an objective test is sufficient to correct misconduct in some instances, it does not ...


Judicial Interference With Effective Advocacy By The Defense, Bennett L. Gershman Jan 1997

Judicial Interference With Effective Advocacy By The Defense, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

A fundamental premise of the American criminal justice system is defense counsel's zealous professional advocacy. Representation of a criminal defendant to be effective must be vigorous. In administering a trial, judges have a duty to ensure a fair and orderly proceeding. On occasion, however, judges overstep the line and impede defense counsel's advocacy functions unfairly. This article describes some of the ways that trial judges may violate legal and ethical standards by improperly interfering with defense counsel's courtroom functions.


Defending The Poor, Bennett L. Gershman Mar 1993

Defending The Poor, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

Given the harsh reality that the quality of justice that people get in this country often depends on how much money they have , is our society's aspiration toward "equal justice" attainable? Probably not. A criminal defendant's poverty is not necessarily inconsistent with zealous advocacy. But whether lawyers for the poor adequately protect their clients' rights in criminal cases is the subject of ongoing debate.


Themes Of Injustice: Wrongful Convictions, Racial Prejudice, And Lawyer Incompetence, Bennett L. Gershman Jan 1993

Themes Of Injustice: Wrongful Convictions, Racial Prejudice, And Lawyer Incompetence, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

The U. S. criminal justice system has undergone radical changes in the past generation. Crime is more complex; prosecutors are more powerful; and courts, corrections agencies, and defense services are burdened with larger case loads and tighter budgets. It is not the best of times to talk about justice. Yet, it is a subject that needs to be constantly addressed, particularly in times of crisis. The following essay focuses on some of the problems that present themselves in the criminal justice system today, including the conviction of innocent defendants, especially in capital cases; racial prejudice; and lawyer incompetence.


Tricks Prosecutors Play, Bennett L. Gershman Apr 1992

Tricks Prosecutors Play, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

Criminal defense lawyers must recognize and challenge prosecutorial misconduct whenever it occurs. In my opinion, prosecutor's today wield greater power, engage in more egregious misconduct, and are less subject to judicial or bar association oversight than ever before. Few defense lawyers or commentators would disagree with these conclusions. Indeed, some types of prosecutorial misconduct have become almost “normative to the system.”


The New Prosecutors, Bennett L. Gershman Jan 1992

The New Prosecutors, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

The power and prestige of the American prosecutor have changed dramatically over the past twenty years. Three generalizations appropriately describe this change. First, prosecutors wield vastly more power than ever before. Second, prosecutors are more insulated from judicial control over their conduct. Third, prosecutors are increasingly immune to ethical restraints. Only the last point may provoke some controversy; the first two are easily documented, and generally accepted by the courts and commentators.

Part I of this article examines in greater detail this vast accretion of prosecutorial power, and explains how this transformation has resulted in a radical skewing of the ...


Judicial Misconduct During Jury Deliberations, Bennett L. Gershman Jan 1991

Judicial Misconduct During Jury Deliberations, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

The author considers the two principal types of improper judicial behavior that may occur during the jury deliberation process. Judicial conduct that attempts to place undue pressure on a jury to reach a verdict may include verdict-urging instructions, threats and intimidation, and inquiry into the numerical division of the jury on the merits of the verdict. Judicial participation in private, ex parte communications with jurors may also subvert orderly trial procedure and undermine the impartiality of the jury. Neither kind of judicial conduct may be allowed to compel a verdict from a jury.


The Most Fundamental Change In The Criminal Justice System: The Role Of The Prosecutor In Sentence Reduction, Bennett L. Gershman Oct 1990

The Most Fundamental Change In The Criminal Justice System: The Role Of The Prosecutor In Sentence Reduction, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

As every lawyer knows, the prosecutor is the most powerful figure in the American criminal justice system. The prosecutor decides whom to charge, what charges to bring, whether to permit a defendant to plead guilty, and whether to confer immunity. In carrying out this broad decision-making power, the prosecutor enjoys considerable independence. Indeed, one of the most elusive and vexing subjects in criminal justice has been to define the limits of the prosecutor’s discretion.


The Adversarial System At Risk, Bennett L. Gershman Apr 1990

The Adversarial System At Risk, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

The most ominous recent development affecting the balance of forces in the adversary system is the unprecedented attack by prosecutors on criminal defense lawyers themselves. Grand jury subpoenas to attorneys, law office searches, disqualification motions, fee forfeiture proceedings, and, most recently, IRS attempts to enforce currency-reporting regulations do not seem to be isolated occurrences or mere happenstance. Rather, perhaps inspired by Shakespeare's injunction in Henry VI to "kill all the lawyers," some prosecutors appear to have concluded that the most effective way to prevail in the battle against crime is to cripple the defense lawyers, particularly those who represent ...


The Right To Evidence, Bennett L. Gershman Nov 1989

The Right To Evidence, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

Although its theoretical basis may be disputed, nobody questions the proposition that a person charged with a crime has a constitutional right to present a defense. Presenting a defense naturally requires access to proof. Access includes not only the availability of evidence, but also its permissible use. Consider some examples: A defendant wants to testify, but his lawyer's threats drive him off the stand. A witness who might be expected to give favorable testimony for the defense appears at trial but refuses to testify. A defense witness wants to testify, but because the defendant failed to notify the prosecutor ...


The Thin Blue Line: Art Or Trial In The Fact-Finding Process?, Bennett L. Gershman Jan 1989

The Thin Blue Line: Art Or Trial In The Fact-Finding Process?, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

Part I of this Commentary objectively analyzes The Thin Blue Line, focusing on the film’s monologues, dramatizations, and exhibits. The film's organizational structure roughly parallels the stages of the criminal justice process, from the investigation and arrest of Adams to his trial, conviction, sentence, and post-conviction litigation. The prologue and epilogue unify the story. Part II attempts to explain the bizarre judicial result, focusing on the prosecutor's dominant role in the criminal justice process. It concludes, as does the film, that one of the fundamental features of our legal system - the intrinsic ability of the adversary process ...


The Prosecutor As "Minister Of Justice", Bennett L. Gershman May 1988

The Prosecutor As "Minister Of Justice", Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

Times have changed. Today, prosecutors are on top of the world. Their powers are enormous, and constantly reinforced by sympathetic legislatures and courts. The "awful instruments of the criminal law," as Justice Frankfurter described the system,1 are today supplemented with broad new crimes, easier proof requirements, heavier sentencing laws, and an extremely cooperative judiciary, from district and state judges, to the highest Court in the land.


Proving The Defendant's Bad Character, Bennett L. Gershman Jan 1988

Proving The Defendant's Bad Character, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

The classic study of the American jury shows that when a defendant's criminal record is known and the prosecution's case has weaknesses, the defendant's chances of acquittal are thirty-eight percent, compared to sixty-five percent otherwise. Because of the danger that jurors will assume that the defendant is guilty based on proof that his bad character predisposes him to an act of crime, the courts and legislatures have attempted to circumscribe the use of such evidence. Some prosecutors, however, although well aware of the insidious effect such prejudicial evidence can have on jurors, violate the rules of evidence ...


The Prosecutor's Obligation To Grant Defense Witness Immunity, Bennett L. Gershman Jan 1988

The Prosecutor's Obligation To Grant Defense Witness Immunity, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

The author enumerates the three most common situations in which the courts have required the prosecutor to offer immunity to defense witnesses: (1) to safeguard the defendant's right to essential exculpatory testimony; (2) where the use of the prosecutor's powers to grant immunity causes such distortion in the fact-finding process as to require granting immunity to defense witnesses; and (3) where immunity is required to remedy prosecutory misconduct such as the intimidation of witnesses. The use of the "missing witness" instruction to avoid reaching the constitutional issue is also discussed.


Reflections On Client Perjury, Bennett L. Gershman Oct 1987

Reflections On Client Perjury, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

Most experienced prosecutors, judges, and defense attorneys would probably agree that perjury in the criminal justice system occurs often. Although the frequency of perjury has never empirically been demonstrated, it is not surprising that with so much at stake, prosecution and defense witnesses would be tempted to fabricate testimony to meet the exigencies of the case. Detecting and dealing with perjurious testimony, however, is another matter. Implicated are complex legal and ethical problems for both prosecutors and defense attorneys. The judiciary's response to these problems, moreover, has largely been formalistic, without enunciating sufficiently clear standards to guide future behavior.


Why Prosecutors Misbehave, Bennett L. Gershman Jan 1986

Why Prosecutors Misbehave, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

The author, perhaps the nation's top authority on prosecutorial misconduct, raises and analyzes two questions: Why does this misconduct occur? (It often pays off.) And why does it continue? (There are no effective sanctions.)


Attorney Loyalty And Client Perjury - A Postscript To Nix V. Whiteside, Bennett L. Gershman Jan 1986

Attorney Loyalty And Client Perjury - A Postscript To Nix V. Whiteside, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

How much, if at all, can a criminal defense lawyer cooperate in his or her client's decision to commit perjury? Courts, commentators, and bar committees have grappled with this question for years without offering clear or consistent guidelines. Any principled response must take into account some very hard questions. Under what circumstances, for instance, does the lawyer ever really "know" that his client's proposed testimony is false? Is it sufficient if the lawyer simply disbelieves his client's story, or that of his client's witnesses? Does it make any difference if the attorney learns of a plan ...


The Burger Court And Prosecutorial Misconduct, Bennett L. Gershman Jan 1985

The Burger Court And Prosecutorial Misconduct, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

Professor Gershman critically examines a series of recent Supreme Court decisions dealing with prosecutorial misconduct. In each case, the Court reversed the lower court and reinstated the conviction.

There are a broad range of issues involved; from suppression of evidence to trial misconduct. As a former prosecutor in New York City, the author is forced to conclude that, "Prosecutorial misconduct occurs because it works and because sanctions for misbehavior are virtually nonexistent."


Toward A Common Law For Undercover Investigations - A Book Review Of Abscam Ethics: Moral Issues And Deception In Law Enforcement, Bennett L. Gershman Jan 1983

Toward A Common Law For Undercover Investigations - A Book Review Of Abscam Ethics: Moral Issues And Deception In Law Enforcement, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Abscam, The Judiciary, And The Ethics Of Entrapment, Bennett L. Gershman Jan 1982

Abscam, The Judiciary, And The Ethics Of Entrapment, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

Part I of this Article surveys the development of the competing threads of entrapment theory. Part II shows how these theories were applied in the Abscam prosecutions. Part III turns to the predisposition test and demonstrates its analytical flaws and its ineffectiveness in restraining he improper use of inducements in undercover investigations. Part IV offers specific suggestions for a federal entrapment statute to remedy these defects. The statute allows an entrapment defense where the undercover techniques used fall outside a narrowly defined range of permissible conduct. If the government's conduct is permissible, the statute nevertheless requires the decision-maker to ...


Entrapment, Shocked Consciences, And The Staged Arrest, Bennett L. Gershman Jan 1982

Entrapment, Shocked Consciences, And The Staged Arrest, Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

This Article discusses the relatively spare and unsettled case law relating to the staged arrest, reflected primarily in United States v. Archer and Nigrone v. Murtagh. Part III of this Article examines the defense of entrapment, one of the most confusing and controversial legal doctrines, and its application to the staged arrest. Because the staged arrest ineluctably raises questions of offensive government conduct that neither constitutes unlawful entrapment nor invades any independent rights of citizens, part IV considers the analysis of courts that have invoked the due process clause to limit government investigations. In view of the failure of these ...


Challenges Against Jurors In Courts-Martial, Karl R. Rábago Jan 1982

Challenges Against Jurors In Courts-Martial, Karl R. Rábago

Pace Law Faculty Publications

This Note will summarize the provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Manual for Courts-Martial as well as the decisions of the military appellate courts in order to assist counsel in preparing for the conduct of voir dire and the challenge procedure. The Note will also discuss pre-trial preparation for the voir dire. The goals are to help the military attorney make better use of his client's right to challenge members of the court; and to give the civilian attorney a better understanding of the challenge process in courts-martial so that he will be more inclined ...


The "Perjury Trap", Bennett L. Gershman Jan 1981

The "Perjury Trap", Bennett L. Gershman

Pace Law Faculty Publications

It is the aim of the present Article, first, to explore the boundaries of legitimate grand jury interrogation as it bears on the subject of perjury and, second, to formulate guidelines that strike a balance between the needs of the investigatory process and the rights of witnesses.