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April 25, 2007 TO: Minnesota County Attorneys FR: John Kingrey RE: rose!utorial Error Re!o""en#ation

At their April 20th meeting the MCAA Board of Directors agreed that the memorandum of recommendation below written by Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Mike Wal ! with input from the MCAA Appellate Committee! regarding the use of the term "prosecutorial error# rather than "prosecutorial misconduct#! should be referred to all County Attorney offices for your consideration$ The nu"%er o& Minnesota appellate !ases a##ressing prose!utorial '"is!on#u!t( has #ou%le# in the past ten years$ Fro" )**5+**, there ,ere only 22 !ases in-ol-ing prose!utorial error in !losing argu"ent$ Fro" 2000 through O!to%er o& 2005, there ,ere ./ pu%lishe# !ases$ Moreo-er, the nu"%er o& !ases re-ie,e# &or 'plain error( has risen #ra"ati!ally$ Tra#itionally, #e&ense attorneys ha-e ha# to o%0e!t at trial to preser-e an issue &or appeal$ That is no longer true$ Fro" )+200. to )0+2005, *21 o& all purporte# trial errors not the su%0e!t o& an o%0e!tion ,ere re-ie,e# &or plain error on appeal$ Ten years ago, that rate ,as 501$ T,enty years ago it ,as 271$ 34ata !o"pile# %y the 5ennepin County Attorneys O&&i!e Appellate 6e!tion7$ That '"is!on#u!t( is on the !olle!ti-e !ons!iousness o& the appellate !ourts is illustrate# %y the &a!t that in 200/ the Minnesota 6upre"e Court !hange# the %ur#en o& proo& in '"is!on#u!t( !ases$ Announ!ing that %e!ause the $tate %& 'riller 3Minn$ )**87 rule ha# not signi&i!antly re#u!e# prose!utorial "is!on#u!t, 'the %ur#en shoul# %e on the prose!ution to sho, a la!9 o& pre0u#i!e 3to the #e&en#ant:s su%stantial rights7 %e&ore ,e ,ill a&&ir" a !on-i!tion$( $tate %& (amey 3Minn$ 200/7$ 5o,e-er, 'prose!utorial "is!on#u!t( as a legal ter"+o&+art o&ten see"s to o-erstate the !ase$ ;n $tate %& Mayhorn 3Minn$ 200/7 the trial 0u#ge allo,e# e-i#en!e o& a prior gun&ight in-ol-ing the #e&en#ant$ The prose!utor therea&ter !o""ente# upon this a#"itte# e-i#en!e a nu"%er o& ti"es$ The Minnesota 6upre"e Court rule# it ,as error &or the trial 0u#ge to ha-e allo,e# the e-i#en!e, %ut #eter"ine# that %y repeate#ly re&erring to that a#"itte# e-i#en!e, 'the prose!utor appeale# to the passions o& the 0ury an# there%y !o""itte# misconduct&# The <uestion then arises, ,hy ,as it "erely error &or a !ourt to a#"it pre0u#i!ial e-i#en!e %ut misconduct &or the prose!utor to !o""ent upon that e-i#en!e, parti!ularly ,hen the ,or# "is!on#u!t !onnotes an 'intentional ,rong#oing,( or a '#eli%erate -iolation o& a la, or stan#ar#, espe!ially %y a go-ern"ent o&&i!ial=( 3>e%ster:s #i!tionary7$
100 Empire Drive, Suite 200 • St. Paul, MN 10! • " 1#" $ 1#1 " 0 0 • %a&' " 1#" $ 1#1 " " "

(((.m)aa#m*.+r,

Mu!h o& the 'prose!utorial "is!on#u!t( !ite# %y the appellate !ourts is #e-oi# o& any suggestion o& intentional ,rong#oing or #eli%erate -iolation o& any la, or a pro!e#ural rule$ Most '"is!on#u!t( is "erely a "ista9e$ Accordingly, the Minnesota County Attorneys Association recommends that each Minnesota prosecutor’s office consider, in all argument or written submission to any court, the use of the phrase “prosecutorial error” in lieu of “prosecutorial misconduct” unless the conduct of the prosecutor in a given case is intentional or deliberate. 6o"e prose!utors ha-e <uestione# ,hether it is ne!essary to e?plain, parti!ularly in an appellate %rie&, the use o& the ter" 'error( rather than '"is!on#u!t$( ;t is not suggeste# that an e?planatory paragraph shoul# al,ays %e in!lu#e#$ 5o,e-er, i& the appellate prose!utor &eels it #esira%le, su!h pre&atory paragraph !oul# state: (egarding "prosecutorial misconduct)# Because the term "misconduct# is generally defined to mean intentional wrongdoing or deliberate %iolation of a law or standard! and because the conduct of the prosecutor in this matter was neither intentional nor deliberate! the *Appellant+ *(espondent+ will use the term "prosecutorial error# instead&