Defendant maintains the court “frequently disparaged and upbraided defense counsel” during counsel’s examination of witnesses. Upon examination, we conclude that, whether or not the court’s evidentiary ruling in each cited instance was correct,8 in no case did the court display overt bias against the defense so as to deprive defendant of a fair trial. In asking defense counsel whether a line of questioning, on recross-examination of the prosecution fingerprint examiner, was within the scope of redirect, the court neither disparaged counsel’s efforts nor prevented counsel from pursuing cross-examination. Similarly, when the court told counsel not to “argue” with a police investigator, defense counsel rephrased and re-posed his question without objection or court interference. Again, when the court interrupted counsel’s cross-examination of a prosecution witness who had heard the gunshots, urging counsel to “get right
7 For example, the court interrupted prosecutor Holliman’s examination of a witness to warn, “Don’t testify. She’s already testified to that. Don’t repeat oneself.” The court rephrased Holliman’s question to another witness, asking rhetorically, “Why don’t we have the witness testify rather than the attorneys?” The court instructed prosecutor Lutes, “First of all, lay a foundation so the jury knows what we are talking about.” When the court sustained a defense objection to one of Holliman’s questions, he asked to approach the bench; the court refused, saying only, “There is no need to approach. You may continue.” During defense examination of a witness, prosecutor Lutes asked for clarification of an evidentiary ruling. The court responded simply, “You will interpose objections at the proper time. I will rule upon the objections.” When Lutes then tried to state an objection, the court cut him off, saying, “There is no question pending.” When Lutes began a question to an expert witness with, “Now, my background isn’t in chemistry . . . ,” the court interrupted to warn, “Let’s not have any prefaces, please.” When Lutes asked a witness to read a newspaper article on the stand, the court admonished him, “Counsel, why didn’t you have this witness read the article out of the presence of the court and jury? This is consumption of court time. It’s not necessary.”
8 Claims of error in the court’s rulings on objections during defense examination of witnesses are made in defendant’s claims VI and VII and are discussed post, in parts VI and VII.