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Name: People v. Zurinaga
Case #: B184288
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 03/26/2007
Summary

The 14th Amendment to the federal Constitution is violated when a prosecutor’s conduct infects the trial with such unfairness as to make the conviction a violation of due process. Conduct that does not render a criminal trial fundamentally unfair is misconduct under state law if it involves the use of deceptive or reprehensible methods to persuade either the court or jury. Because the prosecutor represents the state which has an obligation to be fair, he is held to a higher standard than other attorneys. The prosecutor in this case committed misconduct when at closing he analogized the charged home invasion robbery charged to the 9-1-1 horror and punctuated his argument with a chart itemizing the planes, victim, etc. Because there was no showing of prejudice due to overwhelming evidence of guilt, jury instructions, and the absence of evidence that the decision of the jurors to convict was the result of the analogy, the conduct was deemed harmless.