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.

Instructions

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E.g., 10/21/2021
E.g., 10/21/2021

The defendant was tried for various federal crimes in connection with the collapse of Enron. The Court held that the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to trial by an impartial jury was not violated when the federal district court denied the defendant’s motion to change venue because of pretrial publicity. The Court distinguished the case at hand from previous decisions and concluded that given the community’s population (Houston, Texas), the nature of the news stories about the defendant, the lapse in time between Enron’s collapse and the trial, and the fact that the jury acquitted the defendant of a number of counts, a presumption of juror prejudice was not warranted. The Court went on to conclude that actual prejudice did not infect the jury, given the voir dire process.

In this child sexual assault case, the court rejected the defendant’s argument that a statement made by a prospective juror violated his constitutional right to an impartial jury and constituted plain error. Specifically, the defendant argued that the prospective juror’s statement that her uncle was a local defense attorney who had told her his job was to “get the bad guys off” amounted to a comment on the defendant’s guilt from a reliable source. The court found that the statement in question was generic and did not imply any particular knowledge of the defendant’s case or the possibility that the defendant might be guilty.

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