A judge in northern Idaho declared a mistrial after the prosecutor in opening statements of a domestic violence case lost control of his emotions.
First District Judge Fred Gibler made the ruling Wednesday after determining that Kootenai County Prosecutor Shane Greenbank had "crossed the line" by becoming emotionally involved in the case, and that the display could have influenced jurors.
"In recent cases the Court of Appeals has singled out the Kootenai County prosecutor's office for appealing to the passions or prejudice of the jury," Gibler said. "The entire system has a right to expect the prosecutor to conduct their case in a non-prejudicial manner."
The case involved Grant Gosch, who faces a felony charge of attempted strangulation, and misdemeanor counts of destruction of a telecommunication line and domestic violence.
Records for the case have been sealed. The Kootenai County prosecutor's office did not immediately return a call from The Associated Press on Thursday.
During his opening statement, Greenbank's voice cracked and he asked for a tissue. According to court transcripts, Greenbank said, "I did have tears running down my face, I did have snot running down my face."
Defense attorney Staci Anderson sought the mistrial, The Spokesman-Review reported, arguing that Greenbank was behaving inappropriately as a representative of the state.
"The state was crying during its opening statements and asking for a tissue," Anderson pointed out. "If Mr. Greenbank is not ready to handle this case, then possibly another prosecutor can come down."
Gibler asked Greenbank to "get his emotions under control." But "Mr. Greenbank continued to be emotional."
Gibler said that the prosecutor's "emotional involvement with the case was affecting the jury."
Despite the court transcripts, Greenbank denied he was crying. But he said he tends to get emotional when prosecuting cases involving children.
"There was no intent to appeal to the passions of the jury," Greenbank said.
Greenbank declined to comment about the mistrial, but said the case will likely be retried.