Judge Leopizzi Went Out of His
to be Fair to Carter and Artis
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.)
seems to be pretty straight
in his judgments."
-- John Artis interviewed
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:
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- At defendant's request this Court gave Mr. Carter blanket
permission to travel out of the State to attend speaking
- Recently this Court ordered Mr. Artis unlimited medical
care because of an illness which he has developed.
- On application by defense counsel the Court ordered Detective
DeSimone from assisting the Prosecutor at counsel table.
- The State offered the dying declaration of a State's witness
into evidence. The Court denied the State's application.
- At the voir dire proceedings, defense counsel requested additional
challenges. The State opposed the request. The request was
- 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.
- 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.
- On occasions the attorneys were late. The Court was
aware they had to travel from New York. No sanctions were
- 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.
- The Court charged intoxication despite the fact that Mr.
Artis' attorney omitted to request this instruction.
- 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