Timothy Shortt – NY State Bar # 4776134
Senior Assistant District Attorney
Law professors filed a grievance regarding Timothy Shortt’s summation misconduct in People v. Cunningham and People v. Hightower, which he prosecuted on behalf of the Queens District Attorney’s Office (QDAO).
In People v. Cunningham, Shortt made improper comments during both the opening statement and summation. During the Cunningham oral argument, Justice Sylvia Hinds-Radix made clear just how egregious his summation remarks were; she described them as “outrageous” and “indefensible.” The subsequent appellate decision quoted extensively from cases describing proper prosecutorial conduct in summation—contrasting them with Shortt’s improper behavior.
Shortt repeated this misconduct years later in People v. Hightower. The Appellate Division again took the “opportunity to remind the [prosecution]” of the boundaries of proper summation conduct. Even though the Court was already vacating Hightower’s conviction on other grounds, it decided to make a point to remind the prosecution of the boundaries of closing argument.
Despite the findings of misconduct, the New York Attorney Detail Report lists “Disciplinary History: No record of public discipline” for Shortt at the time the professors filed this grievance.
Shortt’s misconduct in Queens was far from unique; serious misconduct at QDAO has been regularly reported for years.
Powerful positions require the highest accountability. We cannot reward prosecutors for breaking the rules.