Counsel may not make racist comments
- Counsel should not make arguments that are calculated to inflame prejudices. R.C.M. 919(b) discussion.
- United States v. Lawrence, 47 M.J. 572 (N.M. Ct. Crim. App. 1997). Trial counsel’’ rebuttal argument referring to testimony by the accused and his “Jamaican brothers” was plain error and was unmistakenly pejorative, even if trial counsel did not intend to evoke racial animus.
- United States v. Thompson , 37 M.J. 1023 (A.C.M.R. 1993). Trial counsel improperly argued that accused dealt drugs because of thestereotypic view of what the good life is, Boyz in the Hood – drug dealing – sorry to say, the black male and the black population. But nevertheless, it is that look, it is that gold chain, it is that nice car that epitomizes a successful individual.
- United States v. Rodriguez , 60 M.J. 87 (C.A.A.F. 2004). In a case involving a Latino accused, the prosecutor made a passing reference to a “Latin movie” during closing argument. The court declined to adopt a per se prejudice test for statements about race, but it did caution that improper racial comments could deny an accused a fair trial.
- The trial counsel’s use of the phrasechilling with his boyin describing a defense witness’s association with the appellant was at the least insensitive sarcasm and could have been racist. United States v. Walker , 50 M.J. 749 (N-M. Ct. Crim. App. 1999).