Supreme Court Says Prosecutor Went Too Far In Criticizing Defense Strategy
On appeal, prosecutors argued that Pattis' closing argument invited Hodge's comments during her rebuttal. They added that even if the comments were improper, they were harmless error that should not affect the conviction. The prosecution further noted that Pattis never objected to Hodge's remarks.
Nevertheless, the justices sided with Maguire's appellate lawyer, Richard Emanuel, who argued that the remarks prevented his client from getting a fair shake with the jury.
"If the prosecutor had wished to focus the jury on weaknesses in the defendant's theory of defense, there were ample ways for her to do so that would not have involved belittling remarks or personal attacks on the credibility of the defendant and defense counsel," wrote Palmer.
Emanuel said he was pleased with the ruling.
"I think the Supreme Court opinion is a strong affirmation of the principal that prosecutors are prohibited from impugning the integrity and veracity of defense counsel and denigrating the defense theory of the case," he said. "My client and his family are very grateful that the court has reversed his convictions."•