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Portuondo v. Agard

United States Supreme Court
529 U.S. 61 (2000)


Facts

Agard (defendant) was tried in federal court for multiple criminal charges. Agard was the last witness to testify at trial. During closing arguments, the prosecution remarked to the jury that Agard had benefited from his choice to testify last. The prosecution suggested to the jury that Agard had used the testimony of prior witnesses to his advantage. Agard objected to the prosecutor’s remarks on grounds that it deprived him of the right to be present at trial. The trial court overruled Agard’s objection and stated that it was fair for the prosecution to comment about the fact that he gained an advantage from testifying last. Agard was convicted and appealed. The court of appeals concluded that the prosecutor’s comments violated Agard’s Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendment rights and reversed his conviction. The prosecution petitioned the United States Supreme Court for review.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Scalia, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
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  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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Dissent (Ginsburg, J.)

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