Apr 17, 2009 Watch out about opening doors
Often prosecutors are fond of proclaiming that defense counsel "opened the door." Which door is the prosecutor talking of, seeing that hundreds of thousands of doors exist within as little as a mile radius of many courthouses.
Paying homage to Lucy van Pelt, prosecutors of defendant Anthony Loyd Mitchell told the jury, during opening statements, of the the witnesses that the prosecution might or would call against Mitchell, but then some of the listed significant witnesses did not testify. In closing, the defense lawyer pointed out the prosecutor’s unmet promises about the witnesses listed by the prosecutor who did not testify. Over the defendant’s objections, the judge allowed the prosecutor to then point out to the jury that the defendant could have subpoenaed said witnesses to court but did not. Maryland’s highest court allowed such prosecutorial behavior. Fortunately, dissenting Chief Judge Bell, joined by Judge Eldridge, points out that no allowable door was opened by the defendant’s emphasizing to the jury that some of the prosecutor’s listed witnesses did not testify for the prosecution. The case is Mitchell v. Maryland, ___ Md. ___ (April 16, 2009).