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., 10/21/2021
E.g., 10/21/2021
State v. Tyson, 220 N.C. App. 517 (May. 15, 2012)

The trial court committed reversible error by denying the defendant’s request for a trial transcript for use in his retrial. After a mistrial, the trial court set a retrial for the following day. The defendant objected, arguing that he needed a trial transcript before the retrial. The trial court denied the defendant’s request and the defendant was convicted at the retrial. Equal protection requires the State to provide indigent defendants with the basic tools of an adequate defense—including a trial transcript—when those tools are available for a price to other defendants. A two-step test applies for determining whether a transcript must be provided to an indigent defendant: (a) whether the transcript is necessary for an effective defense and (b) whether there are alternative devices available to the defendant that are substantially equivalent to a transcript. Here, the trial judge stated in part that he did “not find that the anticipation or the speculation that a witness may get on the stand and alter their testimony to be sufficient basis to delay a trial so that a transcript can be produced.” These findings are insufficient. The trial court's ruling that the defendant’s asserted need constituted mere speculation that a witness might change his or her testimony would apply in almost every case and a defendant would rarely if ever be able to show that a witness would in fact change his or her testimony. The trial court's ruling makes no determination why this defendant had no need for a transcript, especially in light of the fact that the State's case rested entirely on the victim's identification of the defendant as the perpetrator. Although the trial court indicated that it could take "measures" or had "means" to protect the defendant's rights, without any explanation of what those measures or means would be, this is insufficient to establish that there were alternative devices available that were substantially equivalent to a transcript.

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