Can a Lawyer Quote Individual Jurors in His Arguments ?
"Counsel should not quote individual jurors in their argument to the entire jury." (People v. Freeman (1994) 8 Cal.4th 450, 517.) But "'it does not follow that such conduct is necessarily prejudicial in any given case.'" (Id. at p. 518.)
In Freeman, the prosecutor improperly quoted a short speech that a juror gave during voir dire concerning the need for the death penalty. (Id. at p. 517.)
But the court found there was "no reasonable possibility the complained of comments affected the penalty determination" because the quote "contained nothing improper" and did not "suggest that the juror, or any juror, should not engage in the required individualized weighing process." (Id. at p. 518.)
In People v. Riggs (2008) 44 Cal.4th 248, 326-327, a prosecutor used a chart in closing argument that contained copies of 12 handwritten responses from juror questionnaires in which they described the purpose behind the death penalty.
Use of the chart was improper, but not prejudicial. The chart improperly implied "preexisting unanimity" as to the efficacy of the death penalty, and "use of the jurors' own answers in their own handwriting possibly implied that if those jurors did not vote for the death penalty in defendant's case, they would be acting inconsistently with what they had written--under penalty of perjury--in their questionnaires." (Id. at p. 326.)
But the statements were not particularly inflammatory, the prosecutor reminded the jurors they should not begin deliberations with preconceived notions, and the court instructed the jury to keep an open mind during deliberations.
"That several of the jurors were presented with their own handwritten answers in conjunction with this otherwise permissible argument was not likely to have diminished any of the jurors' sense of responsibility, displaced the court's instructions regarding the jurors' duty to enter deliberations with open minds, or otherwise influenced the verdict." (Id. at p. 327.)