New York State Court of Appeals
Grand Jury Witness
Relevance — Prosecutorial Misconduct
People v. Thompson
Background: The defendant urged the second grand jury to have the prosecution call a particular witness to testify. The grand jury declined to hear from the witness after the prosecutor commented on the vagueness of the request and asserted that the testimony was irrelevant. The defendant was later convicted of second-degree murder for the alleged public execution of a rival drug dealer on a street corner in Staten Island. The defendant appealed, alleging prosecutorial misconduct, arguing that the commentary of the prosecution compelled the grand jury to surrender all independent discretion in the matter and impaired the integrity of the proceedings.
Ruling: The Court of Appeals affirmed. The court held that in light of the totality of the circumstances, the prosecutors’ actions did not impair the integrity of the proceedings. The prosecutor had questioned the witness regarding the alleged witness. The defendant was unclear as to the identity of the witness, nor what she would say.
Warren S. Landau for the appellant; Anne Grady for the respondent