Prosecutorial Misconduct In the Context of Plea Agreements

In People v. Bahoda, 448 Mich 261, 266-267; 531 NW2d 659 (1995), the Michigan Supreme Court made the following remarks regarding prosecutorial misconduct in the context of plea agreements: Included in the list of improper prosecutorial commentary or questioning is the maxim that the prosecutor cannot vouch for the credibility of his witnesses to the effect that he has some special knowledge concerning a witness' truthfulness. While this is generally improper, the simple reference to a plea agreement containing a promise of truthfulness is in itself not grounds for reversal. A more accurate statement of the law appears to be that, although such agreements should be admitted with great caution, admissibility of such an agreement is not necessarily error unless it is used by the prosecution to suggest that the government had some special knowledge, not known to the jury, that the witness was testifying truthfully. Generally, by simply calling a witness who testifies pursuant to an agreement requiring him to testify truthfully, the Government does not insinuate possession of information not heard by the jury and the prosecutor cannot be taken as having expressed his personal opinion on a witness' veracity. Further, the prosecutor is afforded much more leeway if his comments or questions are in response to defense counsel's questions or remarks on cross-examination or in closing. Id.