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Name: People v. Katzenberger
Case #: C058883
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 3 DCA
Opinion Date: 11/02/2009

A prosecutor commits misconduct by using visual aids in closing argument that misstate the law, and thereby conveying a lesser standard of proof than the constitutionally required ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.’ In her closing argument during trial on a Penal Code section 273.5 offense, in a discussion of reasonable doubt, the prosecutor offered a Power Point presentation of a puzzle depicting six of the eight pieces of the Statue of Liberty and argued that it was possible to know beyond a reasonable doubt that the picture was of the Statue of Liberty, even with the two pieces missing. The court agreed with appellant that the prosecutor committed misconduct. The presentation left a distinct impression that the reasonable doubt standard could be met with only a few pieces of evidence and invited the jury to jump to conclusions. It also suggested a quantitative measurement for reasonable doubt. But the error here was harmless. The case was not a close one and the jury had no difficulty reaching a verdict, deliberating for less than 45 minutes.