Criminal Law Keyed to Johnson
Portuondo v. Agard
Agard (Defendant) was tried in federal court for multiple criminal charges. Defendant was the last witness to testify at trial. During closing arguments, the prosecution remarked to the jury that Defendant had benefited from his choice to testify last. The prosecution suggested to the jury that Defendant had used the testimony of prior witnesses to his advantage. Defendant objected to the prosecutor’s remarks on grounds that it deprived him of the right to be present at trial. The trial court overruled Defendant’s objection and stated that it was fair for the prosecution to comment about the fact that he gained an advantage from testifying last. Defendant was convicted and appealed. The court of appeals concluded that the prosecutor’s comments violated Defendant’s Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights and reversed his conviction. The prosecution petitioned the United States Supreme Court for review.
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