Telling Jurors *They* Are the Victims of Bank Fraud Is Plain Error, But Not So Flagrant to Reverse

The ban on "Golden Rule" arguments means prosecutors can't ask jurors to put themselves in the victim's shoes. In Sharon Hall's bank-fraud trial, the prosecutor "went a step further and called them [the jurors] the victims of Hall's crime." But in United States v. Hall, even though the Sixth Circuit concluded that those statements were "no doubt improper," the court affirmed Ms. Hall's convictions.

The problem for Ms. Hall's appeal was in the court's analysis of whether the statements were flagrant, using the so-called Carroll factors: (1) whether the remarks tended to prejudice the defendant; (2) whether the remarks were isolated or extensive; (3) whether they were deliberate or accidental; and (4) whether the evidence against the defendant was strong. The court concluded that the remarks prejudiced Ms. Hall and a post-closing general curative instruction didn't eliminate the harm, but that the three remarks weren't extensive or deliberate, and the evidence against Ms. Hall was strong. 

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