United States v.Deandrade, No. 08-4815-cr (2d Cir. March 12, 201(Jacobs, Hall, CJJ, Murtha, DJ)
At Deandrade’s trial, two cooperating witnesses mentioned that he was incarcerated during his trial. The district court denied his mistrial motions, and on appeal, the circuit affirmed.
Deandrade argued that those references improperly impaired the presumption of innocence under Estelle v. Williams, 425 U.S. 501 (1976). The circuit disagreed, noting that in situations like this, several other courts have held that under Estelle “brief and fleeting references are generally allowed, but extended comment is impermissible.” The circuit agreed, holding that “a brief and fleeting comment on the defendant’s incarceration during trial, without more, does not impair the presumption of innocence to such an extent that a mistrial is required.”
There was accordingly no error here. The remarks were isolated, “apparently unintentional on the part of the prosecution,” incidental to legitimate questioning and the government did not …