State v. Williams

If you are a criminal defense attorney, read this summary. The New Jersey Appellate Division reversed the defendant’s conviction and remanded for a new trial. A jury convicted the defendant of second-degree possession of a weapon by a convicted felon. The issue on appeal was the propriety of the prosecutor’s comments during the State’s summation on a seven-minute segment of surveillance footage, included as part of a one-hour video recording admitted in evidence but not played for the jury by either side during trial. Although the trial court denied the prosecutor’s request to play the previously unseen segment during the State’s closing argument, the court afforded the jurors the option of viewing this footage during their deliberations. Upon the jury’s ensuing request, the seven-minute segment was played for the first time in open court. The Appellate Division ruled this was error and concluded, “We expressly hold the admission of video-recorded evidence is properly limited to only those segments played for the jury during the trial, even when the entire video recording purportedly has been admitted in evidence. Accordingly, we conclude counsel are prohibited from commenting on the unshown segments in their closing remarks to the jury.”

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