Judges hearing an appeal by ex-employees of imprisoned Wall Street swindler Bernard Madoff (MAY'-dawf) have taken prosecutors to task for arguments a defense lawyer says used emotion and prejudices to win over jurors.

Defense attorney Andrew Frisch complained Tuesday the government's rebuttal argument was so over the top the court should throw out the convictions of his client and four others in the $20 billion fraud.

Frisch complained the prosecution cited the 1960s civil rights movement in urging a jury including six blacks and one Latino to have the courage to convict.

A 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge repeatedly asked prosecutor Aimee Hector if the government would make such an argument again. The prosecutor said it might not have been perfect but was proper.

Madoff pleaded guilty and is serving a 150-year prison sentence.