Thursday, March 31, 2005

Error to cut off opening argument -- but harmless

Appellant argues that the trial court's termination of defense counsel's opening statement was an abuse of discretion and a violation of his due process right to a trial free of partiality and unfairness. . . . Although we find that the trial judge improperly limited counsel's opening statement, the error was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Prior to the termination of her opening statement, counsel was able to present her theory of defense and provide some information about the organization and nature of [a particular gang]. The jury received a reasonably detailed roadmap of defendant's case, and counsel was able develop the evidence and arguments during the remainder of the trial. Further, the district court minimized any appearance of partiality by instructing the jury that the admonition was a matter of procedure.

U.S. v. Cramer, 2005 WL 681897 (9th Cir. March 35, 2005)(unpublished), Find Result - 2005 WL 681897. This unpublished case also discusses some other evidentiary and procedural issues.

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