People v. Leonard Williams


AD2 order dated December 31, 2014, affirming judgment of conviction. Decision below: 123 AD3d 1152, 997 NYS3d 499. Pigott, J., granted leave June 19, 2015.
ISSUES PRESENTED: (1) Whether the prosecutor’s use of a slide show powerpoint presentation during summation deprived defendant of a fair trial. (2)Whether the prosecutor mischaracterized the trial evidence on summation. (3)Whether counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the prosecutor’s summation comments. (Assigned counsel: Alex Donn and Lynn W.L. Fahey, Appellate Advocates, 111 John St., 9th Floor, NYC 10038.)

Issue before the Court: In both cases, the propriety of the prosecutor’s use of PowerPoint presentations on summation.


Held: PowerPoint presentations are fine if used properly.


CAL Observes: These two cases, both affirming convictions albeit on different grounds, are a must-read for trial attorneys –or at least the Cliff Notes versions.  They collectively set forth the guiding principles for the use of PowerPoint presentations on summation, to wit:


1.  If it would be OK to say it during summation, it’s OK to put it on a PowerPoint slide.


2.  Superimposed commentary on trial exhibits must accurately reflect the trial evidence, or fair inferences to be drawn therefrom.


3. Blatant emotional appeals are not OK.