On Oct. 4, 2013, the Supreme Court upheld Jing Xin Xiao’s convictions in the case Commonwealth v. Jing Xin Xiao. In his appeal, Xiao alleged numerous errors by the Superior Court during his trial for possession and trafficking of a controlled substance, which resulted in convictions.
The arguments Xiao raised on appeal included: (1) prosecutorial misconduct during opening and closing statements; (2) impermissible expert witness testimony; (3) the trial court’s improper denial of his motion requesting an expert witness; (4) the trial court’s improper denial of his motion for continuance; (5) impermissible chains-of-custody admitted into evidence; (6) improper character evidence; and (7) cumulative errors resulting in an unfair trial.
The Supreme Court disagreed with most of Xiao’s contentions, but the court did conclude that the prosecution made two improper statements. The first improper statement came during an opening argument, when the prosecutor inappropriately asked the jury to convict Xiao, in part, to address a drug epidemic facing society. The second improper statement was made during a closing argument, when the prosecutor inappropriately characterized a few remarks by Xiao as a confession. Ultimately, though, the High Court found these statements did not affect the fundamental fairness of his trial. As a result, the Supreme Court found Xiao was not entitled to a new trial.
The Supreme Court’s full opinion is Commonwealth v. Jing Xin Xiao, 2013 MP 12, and can be found at http://www.cnmilaw.org/supreme13.html. (NMI Judiciary)