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., 10/18/2021
E.g., 10/18/2021
State v. Phillips, 365 N.C. 103 (June 16, 2011)

The court rejected the capital defendant’s claim that the prosecution knowingly elicited or failed to correct false testimony. In victim Cooke’s pretrial statements, she related that the defendant said that he had nothing to live for. When asked at trial whether the defendant made that statement, Cooke responded: “Not in those terms, no.” The court concluded that it was not apparent that Cooke testified falsely or that her trial testimony materially conflicted with her pretrial statements. Moreover, it found that any inconsistency was addressed during cross-examination. Finally, the court concluded, even if Cooke perjured herself, there is no indication that the State knew her testimony was false.

The defendant was convicted of murder for shooting and killing the victim in the parking lot of a dance club. Before trial, a witness to the shooting met with prosecutors to review her 35-page statement to the police and prepare her trial testimony. During that interview, the witness stated that she did not see the shooting but she saw the defendant holding a gun and running towards the victim. The state provided notes from that interview to the defense. At trial, however, the witness testified that she saw the defendant stand over the victim and shoot him. The defense asked the court to instruct the state to enter into a stipulation or make a statement to the jury explaining that the witness had not previously claimed she saw the shooting. The state responded that it had no knowledge the witness would testify inconsistently with her prior statement, it had complied with the discovery rules by turning over the prior statement and interview notes, and any discrepancies should be addressed on cross-examination. The trial court did not order the state to enter a stipulation or address the jury, and instead offered the defense an opportunity to conduct additional cross-examination, which the defense declined. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s ruling and rejected the defendant’s argument that the state knowingly presented false testimony in violation of defendant’s due process rights. Even if the witness’s trial testimony was false, the defendant failed to show that: (1) the testimony was material; and (2) the state knowingly and intentionally used that false testimony to convict the defendant. First, the defendant did not show that the testimony was material because other witness testimony and circumstantial evidence established that the defendant shot the victim. Second, the defendant did not show that state deliberately used false testimony because the state was not aware that the witness would testify inconsistently with her prior statement and pretrial interview. Any discrepancies between the witness’s prior statements and her trial testimony were matters of credibility, and they were properly addressed through impeachment on cross-examination.

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