Improper Closing Arguments of a Penalty Phase In Florida

In Spencer v. State, 842 So. 2d 52 (Fla. Jan. 9, 2003), the court explained: In order for an error to be fundamental and justify reversal in the absence of a timely objection, "the error must reach down into the validity of the trial itself to the extent that a verdict of guilty could not have been obtained without the assistance of the alleged error." Brown v. State, 124 So. 2d 481, 484 (Fla.1960); see also State v. Delva, 575 So. 2d 643, 645 (Fla. 1991). In order for improper comments made in the closing arguments of a penalty phase to constitute fundamental error, they must be so prejudicial as to taint the jury's recommended sentence. Id. at 42. In Thompson v. State, 759 So. 2d 650, 664 (Fla. 2000) the defendant claimed defense counsel was ineffective for failing to object to several improper remarks by the prosecutor. This Court stated that "because none of these prosecutorial comments would have constituted reversible error had they been objected to at trial, we affirm the trial court ruling summarily denying this claim." Id. at 664.