In the Matter of A.M., 220 N.C. App. 136 (2012)

The trial court erred in not ruling on the juvenile’s motion for disclosure of witnesses and not granting a continuance or otherwise remedying the problem created by the State’s failure to comply with G.S. 7B-2300(b). Before the adjudication hearing, the juvenile filed a motion pursuant to G.S. 7B-2300(b) to require the State to disclose a list of witnesses and their prior records. The State provided names of some witnesses, but the court did not rule on the motion. On the day of the adjudication hearing, the State revealed the identity of a witness who would testify that she had seen the juvenile set the fire he was charged with setting. The prosecutor claimed to have learned of the witness just that day and said the juvenile’s attorney had been given a chance to speak to the witness. The court denied the juvenile’s motion for a continuance. The witness’s testimony, including that she had received a subpoena months earlier, made clear that the State (though perhaps not the individual prosecutor) knew of the witness long before the hearing date. The court held the State’s failure to disclose the identity of the eyewitness before the day of the hearing and the court’s failure to grant a continuance or otherwise deal with the problem were prejudicial to the juvenile and required a new hearing. The juvenile satisfied requirements for showing that the error was prejudicial under G.S. 15A-1443(a), i.e., that a different result would have been reasonably possible if the error had not occurred. With prior notice the juvenile might have been able to impeach the witness, might not have been adjudicated delinquent for setting the fire, and might not have received the disposition he received. The court ordered a new hearing.

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