How have courts treated comments by a prosecutor to a jury in a civil case?

California, United States of America


The following excerpt is from People v. Linares, E068808 (Cal. App. 2019):

We turn to the prosecutor's other comments, in which the prosecutor urged the jury to do justice for the victims and hold the defendant accountable. Some courts have criticized prosecutorial argument urging the jury to "'send a message to the community,'" or to convict the defendant in order to protect community values, preserve civil order, deter future law breaking. (United States v. Lawrence (6th Cir. 2013) 735 F.3d 385, 432-433.) However, other courts have held that a prosecutor's argument that the jury should

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restore justice to the streets, because that street on that day was without justice, was not misconduct. (People v. Adanandus (2007) 157 Cal.App.4th 496, 511-512.)

Similarly, a prosecutorial argument that the jury should "'make a statement,'" and do "'the right thing'" and to "restore 'confidence' in the criminal justice system," has been deemed to be proper. (See People v. Wash (1993) 6 Cal.4th 215, 261-261.) It has also been held that exhorting the jury to do justice for the victim would not likely have influenced the jury's determination. (See People v. Medina (1995) 11 Cal.4th 694, 777-778.) Here, there was no reasonable probability that a result more favorable to the defendant would have been reached if counsel had objected and the court had admonished the jury. (People v. Pensinger (1991) 52 Cal.3d 1210, 1250.)

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