TRIAL JUDGE’S EXTENSIVE QUESTIONING OF WITNESSES DEPRIVED DEFENDANT OF A FAIR TRIAL.
The Second Department ordered a new trial because the trial judge conducted extensive questioning of witnesses:
Supreme Court conducted excessive and prejudicial questioning of trial witnesses, warranting a new trial. Although defense counsel did not object to the questioning of witnesses by the court, we reach this contention in the exercise of our interest of justice jurisdiction …. . “[W]hile a trial judge may intervene in a trial to clarify confusing testimony and facilitate the orderly and expeditious progress of the trial, the court may not take on the function or appearance of an advocate'” … . “In last analysis, [the trial judge] should be guided by the principle that his [or her] function is to protect the record, not to make it” … . “[T]he line is crossed when the judge takes on either the function or appearance of an advocate at trial” … . Indeed, “even proper questions from trial judges present significant risks of prejudicial unfairness, particularly when the trial judge indulge[s] in an extended questioning’ of witnesses” … .
* * * …[T]he court’s improper interference with the conduct of the trial deprived the defendant of a fair trial, and a new trial is warranted … . People v Davis, 2017 NY Slip Op 01381, 2nd Dept 2-22-17
CRIMINAL LAW (TRIAL JUDGE’S EXTENSIVE QUESTIONING OF WITNESSES DEPRIVED DEFENDANT OF A FAIR TRIAL)/JUDGES (CRIMINAL LAW, TRIAL JUDGE’S EXTENSIVE QUESTIONING OF WITNESSES DEPRIVED DEFENDANT OF A FAIR TRIAL)