Wilks v. State

In Wilks v. State, 2002 WY 100, P27, 49 P.3d 975, P27 (Wyo. 2002), the Court set out principles governing closing arguments. Closing arguments must be based upon the evidence submitted to the jury. The purpose of closing argument is to allow counsel to offer ways of viewing the significance of the evidence. Id. Prosecutors, just like defense counsel, may review the evidence and suggest to the jury inferences based thereon. Id. There are limits, however, on prosecutor's closing arguments that are designed to insure the fairness of the trial and prevent compromise of the judicial system. The Court in Wilks v. State adopted the following broad guidelines: (a) The prosecutor may argue all reasonable inferences from evidence in the record. It is unprofessional conduct for the prosecutor intentionally to misstate the evidence or mislead the jury as to the inferences it may draw. (b) It is unprofessional conduct for the prosecutor to express his or her personal belief or opinion as to the truth or falsity of any testimony or evidence or the guilt of the defendant. (c) The prosecutor should not use arguments calculated to inflame the passions or prejudices of the jury. (d) The prosecutor should refrain from argument which would divert the jury from its duty to decide the case on the evidence, by injecting issues broader than the guilt or innocence of the accused under the controlling law, or by making predictions of the consequences of the jury's verdict."