WA Supreme Court: Prosecutors Can Flaunt Truthiness Clause in Testimony Contract
This is a very bad morning comedically for me. I went on a run at 5:30. I came back. I went to work. I'd rather just take a nap. But here I am...handed a softball like "Ish", and I'm too tired to make a poop joke. I'm too tired to make a running gag where I just substitute "ish" for is. My brain has just given up.
Anyhow, I suppose we should talk about the case. Well, its a 4-4-1, so the only law made is where the 4 converge with the other 4. Let's see what they say. Turns out this is a murder case where the prosecutor entered into an agreement with a witness, which required he testify truthfully. During the testimony, the prosecutor whips out the contract and uses it to talk about how the witness will be truthful. Vouching, right? THe court agreed....or at least the lead opinion agreed. The concurrence says this really isn't misconduct, because an adept defense attorney sees that as a gold mine for impeachment of the witness.
I tend to agree with both. I think an objection can be made, but wouldn't you rather do the following:
A: Mr. Jones, you came here today to testify against my client?
W: Yes, I did.
A: And you were recommended leniency in exchange for your testimony?
A: In fact, they made you sign a contract.
A: They made you sign a contract that you would testify here.
A: They made you sign a contract that you would testify here and that you would be truthful.
A: And they wouldn't give you leniency unless you signed this contract
W: No, they wouldn't give it to me unless I signed.
A: They wouldn't give you leniency unless you signed a contract to be truthful.
A: So they didn't trust you to testify truthfully unless they got it in writing?
The dissent by Sanders would have reversed. The law made here today is it was error, but the court of appeals is affirmed anyhow.