Judge Leopizzi Went Out of His Way
to be Fair to Carter and Artis

COMPLETE TEXT IN PDF FORM

During a 1981 hearing -- after attorneys for Carter and Artis attacked his impartiality -- Judge Bruno Leopizzi gave a detailed response outlining important decisions he made in favor of the two defendants at their 1976 trial. An excerpt from his statement is below; the entire statement by the judge can be found here in searchable pdf format. (Note: The order of the items has been changed in the text on this page, and numbers have been added.)

"The judge seems to be pretty straight
in his judgments."

-- John Artis interviewed by WABC-TV
as he awaited the jury's verdict, Dec. 21, 1976

STATEMENT BY JUDGE LEOPIZZI

An examination of some of the many discretionary rulings by this Court [in the 1976 Carter-Artis murder trial] gives some indication as to the impartial and fair disposition of the decisions that were rendered in favor of the defendants. For example:

  1. This Court advised Mr. Steel [Artis' attorney] when jury selection was about to start that it would consider a motion to sever Artis [hold a separate trial] despite the fact that counsel had failed to request the severence and refused it at the pretrial conferences.

  2. In its charge to the jury the Court told the jury that if the jury did not believe Bello, the defendants should be acquitted. The State objected vigorously and requested that the Court instruct the jury that it had presented other evidence for the jury's consideration. The State's request was denied.

  3. The State offered into evidence the transcript of Mr. Carter's testimony at the '66 trial which was perfectly admissible, and in denying it, the Court's thinking was that when Mr. Carter testified at the '66 trial he did not contemplate that this testimony would be used against him, and it was on that theory that the court again denied the State's request.

  4. Early in the trial the Court denied the State's offer to permit Mr. Carter's book in evidence, "The Sixteenth Round," which the State thought would prove its theory of racial revenge. Defense counsel later in the trial opened the door, clearly making it admissible by the questions that it asked of a witness on the stand. The State renewed its application but this Court again denied its offer on the theory that the prejudice would outweigh the probative value.

  5. The State attempted to offer letters written by Mr. Carter into evidence which would aid the State in proving the false alibi theory. This Court denied the State's request.

  6. At defendant's request this Court gave Mr. Carter blanket permission to travel out of the State to attend speaking engagements.

  7. Recently this Court ordered Mr. Artis unlimited medical care because of an illness which he has developed.

  8. On application by defense counsel the Court ordered Detective DeSimone from assisting the Prosecutor at counsel table.

  9. The State offered the dying declaration of a State's witness into evidence. The Court denied the State's application.

  10. At the voir dire proceedings, defense counsel requested additional challenges. The State opposed the request. The request was granted.

  11. A review of the jury interrogation would reveal a thorough and painstaking examination of each juror by this Court in an effort to obtain a fair and impartial trial. After the Court completed the voir dire, counsel were permitted to submit additional questions and request further exploration of different areas.

  12. At one point during the voir dire it was the Court who suggested to counsel that perhaps the prospective juror should not be made aware that one of the defendants had a criminal record because in the final analysis the defendant may decide not to testify. Consequently, the jury would not be aware of it. This was done on the Court's own initiative to protect the defendant.

  13. On occasions the attorneys were late. The Court was aware they had to travel from New York. No sanctions were ever imposed.

  14. Prior to the trial defendants were permitted not only to file untimely suppression motion but in fact the Court offered to obtain the necessary police witness for them by having to call them on the phone and to ensure his presence. The Court impounded those proceedings to avoid any prejudicial publicity that might affect the defendants and interfere with a fair trial.

  15. The Court charged intoxication despite the fact that Mr. Artis' attorney omitted to request this instruction.

  16. During the jury misconduct hearings the Appellate Court had remanded the matter to this Court to conduct a hearing and to interrogate jurors. After each juror was questioned, I permitted counsel to make requests to have the Court explore any areas they thought necessary and I asked whatever questions they requested, despite the fact that I was not directed to do so by the Appellate Division. When the hearing first started counsel agreed that the juror witnesses would be given a transcript of the so-called Adamo allegations. When I questioned three jurors along that format, which was agreed to by counsel, counsel asked the Court to change the format and to not give the jurors a transcript of the allegations. The Court granted counsel's motion.

These are but a few of this Court's rulings which categorically indicate that this Court is not bias or hostile against the defendants or counsel.

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