1700 7th Avenue, Suite 2100, Seattle, Washington 98101
The Best in Traffic, DUI and Criminal Defense
Available 24/7 For a FREE Consultation (206) 729-3477

Court: Power Point Went Too Far

Posted Monday, January 15, 2018 by Andrew Charles Huff

Does the use of Power Point in trial have its limits? This issue was before the Washington State Supreme Court where the primary question was whether convictions must be reversed in light of a Power Point presentation the prosecuting attorney used during closing argument.

During closing, the prosecutor’s presentation to the jury repeatedly expressed their personal opinion on guilt-over 100 of its approximately 250 slides were headed with the words “DEFENDANT WALKER GUILTY OF PREMEDITATED MURDER,” and one slide showed Walker’s booking photograph altered with the words “GUILTY BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT,” which were superimposed over his face in bold red letters. Two slides had the heading “DEFENDANT WALKER GUILTY OF ASSAULT IN THE FIRST DEGREE,” and three have the heading “DEFENDANT WALKER GUILTY OF SOLICITATION TO COMMIT ROBBERY.”

It’s certainly common for attorneys to use multimedia resources in closing arguments to a jury. In fact, such techniques are taught in most trial advocacy classes and I always try to use some visual aids when I’m in trial. Closing arguments are the attorney’s opportunity to argue reasonable inferences from the evidence.

However, the Court in this case found that such advocacy has its limits and a prosecutor has the duty to “subdue courtroom zeal,” not to add to it, in order to ensure the defendant receives a fair trial. Ultimately, the Court ruled that the prosecutor’s conduct in this case was improper. The Court explained that closing argument does not give a prosecutor the right to present altered versions of admitted evidence to support the State’s theory of the case, to present derogatory depictions of the defendant, or to express personal opinions on the defendant’s guilt. Therefore, the convictions were overturned.

State v. Walker, No. 89830-8

Latest From the Blog…

5/4/2022 – For Motorcyclists, Be Safe and Be Legal read more…