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Michael HoenigMichael Hoenig ()

Although courts often decry improper argument, because of a reluctance to reverse or to order a new trial, prejudicial indiscretions nevertheless may go unpunished.1 With current levels of docket congestion, a proliferation of complex, multi-party cases and some tendencies towards lengthier trials, the problem of reluctance to grant a mistrial has worsened. The purpose of maintaining an expensive justice system is not merely to process cases through revolving doors but to assure fair proceedings. Allowing skilled and articulate counsel to appeal to jurors’ passions or prejudices degrades the law in the long run. The pain of a mere slap on the wrist obviously does not outweigh the offender’s “trip to the bank.”2

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