Derisive Comments by the Prosecutor Toward the Defense Counsel

In People v. Hill (1998) 17 Cal.4th 800, the courtroom bailiff overheard the defendant make incriminating statements and, at trial, testified for the prosecution regarding those statements. (Hill, supra, 17 Cal.4th at p. 842.) The bailiff thereafter resumed his courtroom duties. (Ibid.) The prosecutor argued that there had to be some evidence on which to base doubt. The Supreme Court concluded it was reasonably probable that this comment by the prosecutor was a misstatement of law constituting prosecutorial misconduct. (Hill, supra, 17 Cal.4th at pp. 831-832.) Hill involved multiple acts of error involving derisive comments by the prosecutor toward defense counsel, interruptions by the prosecutor of defense counsel, intimidation of witnesses by the prosecutor, misrepresenting the defendant's prior record, the shackling of the defendant, instructional error, and cumulative error. (Id. at 832-848.) The California Supreme Court concluded that the trial court, on its own motion, should have instructed the jury not to give the bailiff's testimony any additional weight merely because he was a bailiff and that the bailiff should have been reassigned to another courtroom after he testified because the jurors would likely have accorded the bailiff's testimony additional weight simply because he was a uniformed officer in charge of their protection. (Id. at pp. 842-843.) The judgment in Hill was ultimately reversed. (Id. at p. 853.)