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Circuit Court Rules Burden Shift Does Not Require Mistrial

By Expert Author: Henry Rundquist

Defendant appealed the decision of the trial court to the Circuit Court arguing that the state attempted to shift the burden of proof from the state to the defendant. The Sixth Circuit Court, acting its appellate capacity upheld the county court's ruling & defendant's conviction for DUI in the case of State vs. Canton. Defendant's argument on appeal, was that the prosecution engaged in improper burden shifting in the prosecution's closing argument, and accordingly the lower court should have granted defendant's request for a mistrial. Specifically, the prosecutor, in closing, called attention to defendant's failure to put into evidence his written prescription for the Xanax defendant admitted to taking prior to his DUI arrest, which defendant contended was an improper burden shift. The court agreed, but ruled that this didn't constitute a fundamental error, as this was a single, brief and isolated comment that did not address any element of the crime charged. Moreover, as the trial court twice instructed the jury regarding the proper burden of proof, there were no sufficient grounds for a mistrial.

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Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

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