Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

Smith's Criminal Case Compendium

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This compendium includes significant criminal cases by the U.S. Supreme Court & N.C. appellate courts, Nov. 2008 – Present. Selected 4th Circuit cases also are included.

Jessica Smith prepared case summaries Nov. 2008-June 4, 2019; later summaries are prepared by other School staff.

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E.g., 09/17/2021
E.g., 09/17/2021

In this first-degree murder case, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by allowing the State to elicit testimony from a supplemental rebuttal expert, Dr. Wolfe, first disclosed by the State during trial. The defendant asserted a violation of G.S. 15A-903(a)(2)’s pretrial expert witness disclosure requirements. The State did not disclose Wolfe, her opinion or expert report before trial. The State offered Wolfe in response to its receipt, right before jury selection, of a primary defense expert’s final report, which differed from the expert’s previously supplied report. Wolfe was a supplemental rebuttal witness, not the State’s sole rebuttal witness, nor a primary expert introducing new evidence. The defendant was able to fully examine Wolfe and the basis for her opinion during a voir dire held eight days before her trial testimony. The trial court set parameters limiting Wolfe’s testimony, and the defendant received the required discovery eight days before she testified. No court was held on four of these days, providing the defense an opportunity to prepare for her testimony. Although the defense moved to continue its expert’s voir dire examination based on the timing of the State’s discovery disclosures (Wolfe initially was offered as a rebuttal witness on the Dabuert voir dire of the defendant’s expert; when the trial court found that the defendant’s expert satisfied Rule 702, Wolfe was offered as a rebuttal expert at trial), it never moved for a trial continuance or requested more time to prepare for Wolfe’s rebuttal. Thus, the defendant failed to show that the trial court abused its discretion in allowing Wolfe’s limited rebuttal testimony.

In a murder case, the trial court did not violate the defendant’s constitutional right to reasonable notice of evidence or his statutory right to discovery by allowing the State to present an expert toxicologist’s testimony. As part of his investigation, Dr. Jordan, a local medical examiner, sent a specimen of the victim’s blood to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for analysis. During trial, Jordan testified to the opinion that the cause of death was methadone toxicity and that this opinion was based upon the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office’s report. When defense counsel raised questions about the report, the trial court allowed the State to call as a witness Jarod Brown, the toxicologist at the State Medical Examiner’s Officer who analyzed the victim’s blood. The defendant objected to Brown’s testimony on grounds that he had not been notified that Brown would be a witness. With respect to the alleged statutory discovery violation, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by allowing Brown to testify. The court noted that the defendant had the toxicology report for four years, had it reviewed by two experts, was afforded the opportunity to meet privately with Brown for over an hour prior to a voir dire hearing, and was afforded cross-examination on voir dire. As to the constitutional issues, the court noted that although the defendant argued that he was not afforded adequate time to prepare, he failed to show how his case would have been better prepared if he had more time or that he was materially prejudiced by Brown’s testimony. Because the defendant had the report for four years, had two experts review it, was afforded an opportunity to confer with Brown prior to his testimony, and cross-examined Brown, the defendant failed to demonstrate that a constitutional error occurred.

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