Division in the Illinois Appellate Court: What is the Appropriate Standard of Review for Alleged Prosecutorial Misconduct During Closing Argument?
Harding, Ryan T.
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The Illinois Appellate Court is divided on whether to apply de novo review or an abuse of discretion standard when evaluating alleged prosecutorial misconduct during closing argument. This article concludes that de novo review is the proper standard of review under current Illinois law. However, as a matter of policy, this article recommends that (1) abuse of discretion review should normally apply to the trial court's determination that a defendant was not substantially prejudiced by the State's closing argument; (2) de novo review should apply when the trial court's determination that a defendant was not substantially prejudiced turned on a pure question of law; and (3) the plain error doctrine should apply when the defendant fails to preserve the issue of whether he was substantially prejudiced by the State's closing argument.