He lied, he lied, he lied

Not an uncommon trial counsel theme when a client has testified.  Recently, the

Fourth Circuit considers a prosecutor’s closing argument based on the trial evidence in which the defendant “lied” under oath; circuit notes again that this argument is improper, although the error in this case did not constitute plain error, in United States v. Woods, 710 F.3d 195 (4th Cir. March 18, 2013) (No. 11-4817)

What concerns are raised when a prosecutors argues, based on the trial evidence, that the defendant “lied” at trial? The Fourth Circuit provided an assessment of this issue, highlighting two risks from this type of argument.

This is what to listen for prior to objecting.

When a prosecutor comments on the veracity of a witness, the prosecutor’s statement presents two discrete risks: (1) of improperly suggesting to the jury that the prosecutor’s personal opinion has evidentiary weight; and (2) of improperly inviting the jury to infer that the prosecutor “had access to extra-judicial information, not available to the jury.”

h/t federal evidence review

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